Wednesday, June 25, 2008

High park

Front page Toronto news the past couple of days has been the story about someone who intentionally poured anti-freeze into a public drinking trough for dogs in an off-leash area of High Park called Dog Hill thereby poisoning several dogs, two of which have now died.

One theory, offered up by the police, is that this is a result of an unresolved conflict between dog walkers who want more freedom for their pets and those who want the dogs reigned in because dogs are felt to be a disturbance to other park users, wildlife areas, etc. - the implication being that, though a bit extreme, maybe the poisoning of a few dogs was a justifiable attempt, in some people's minds, to stop the rampaging monsters.

Whether or not this theory pans out, it does bring up once again, the nagging anti-dog squirmishes that have been going on now for years in this city.

What neither side brings up is that stopping dogs from trampling undergrowth or getting in the way of joggers isn't going to solve the real problem which is a lack of natural spaces in our city. It's like trying to stop the spread of AIDS by telling people not to sneeze. If they want to do something meaningful to protect and renaturalize, in this case, High Park, they should do something truly brave like ban or at least reduce the number of cars, roads and parking lots in the park. The harm done by a few dogs running through the grass is miniscule compared to the wave of destruction wreaked by paved asphalt surfaces, by the spew that comes out of tailpipes, by the noise of engines.

The reason why High Park, or any inner city park, is so precious is because we have destroyed everything natural around it. Every road, every shopping mall, every residential neighbourhood, basically every square meter of this city is only possible through the killing of innumerable animals and plants that once populated this land. Imagine all the abundance of life that once existed here that is now covered by concrete, asphalt and plastic. All that life, from the smallest annoying "weeds" to the grandest animals, all dead and gone because we just had to have every last one of our shopping malls, and roads to get to the malls and larger houses to store everything in.

If the problem of lack of green space is to be solved then the true cause of the problem must be addressed.

People are the guilty party. They shouldn't be blaming dogs. That's just stupid.

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