St. James Park Makeover

Occupy Toronto’s month long stay at St. James Park left quite the mess.

The park’s lush green grass was reduced to an unsightly brown muck and it was hardly the welcoming place it had been previously.

Costs of restoring the damaged ground were estimated to be around $25,000, but thanks to a generous donation and the work of volunteers, it won’t cost the city a dime.

Landscape Ontario and the Nursery Sod Growers of Ontario donated about 11,000 square metres of sod and have laid it free of charge with the help of local volunteers.

What community spirit!

Freshly laid sod at St. James Park

Volunteers and city workers are also gearing up for the Christmas season by cleaning and decorating the park gazebo.

Restoration work underway on gazebo



Protesters at odds with Kevin Clarke, one another

One of the more noticeable individuals at St. James Park is Kevin Clarke.

Torontonians may know Clarke as the perennial candidate for mayor of the city.

Clarke has seized upon the Occupy movement as a means to further his own political agenda, calling himself the leader of the People’s Political Party of Ontario.

He can often be found draped in a Canadian flag and preaching his politics at an incredible volume.

As Occupy protestors gathered last Sunday for a general assembly, Clarke began pacing on stage, berating the protestors for beginning the meeting at 6:30 p.m. rather than the scheduled 6:00 p.m.

He then announced, in minute detail, a meeting of the People’s Party members for the

following day at which he anticipated a “group ranging from 300 to 5, 000 people and a security presence of four to 40 officers.”

After about 10 minutes, members of the Occupy movement attempted to remove Clarke from the stage.  At one point things threatened to get physical before others stepped in.

As Clarke was being led off-stage, he declared himself the “Successor to Jack Layton” and anointed a nearby police officer as “Toronto’s next police chief.”

This incident aside, tensions are visibly higher among protestors.

Sunday’s assembly was noticeably less amicable than the previous weeks’ with patience running low and considerably fewer “positive feelings” expressed towards speakers with twinkling-fingers.

Speakers were continually interrupted and the general tone was one of frustration.

Monday’s upholding of the city’s eviction won’t ease tensions.  Some protestors have left while others await confrontation with police, according to a CBC report.

The “Mothership” Braces for Impact

A protestor tries to rally support from passers-by at St. James Park

“Protect the Mothership” were the words of several protestors at St. James Park today in reference to the eviction notice served up to Occupy Toronto protestors Tuesday morning.

The “Mothership” is a reference to Toronto’s leading role in Canada’s Occupy movement.

A group of about 100 protestors and movement leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon and discussed issues from finances to food and strategy for the anticipated arrival of police at 11p.m.

It is an interesting experience watching this group conduct their business.

A mediator calls speakers from a list while the whole group repeats each line in unison once the speaker begins.  It is both a display of support for their peers and a means of ensuring all in attendance hear what is being said.

It also ensures all meetings are long, drawn-out affairs.

Occupy Protestors hold a meeting in St. James Park

Agreement with the speaker is expressed by the raising of hands and fluttering of fingers, not through applause or shouting.  And no speaker is ever interrupted before they have said their piece.  It is all very communal.

In the end it was decided that some of the group’s remaining funds would be spent on food, some on printing flyers, and some set aside for anticipated legal fees once police arrive.

Protestors debated how they wanted to be portrayed in the media once police arrived. Should they be partying in a show of defiance to the city?  Should the join hands and circle the park?  Or should they circle only key areas like the library and food tent?

In the end, they’ll have more time to decide.  An injunction against the eviction was issued Tuesday evening, delaying the confrontation for at least a few days.

News of the injunction no doubt sparked much hand-raising and finger-fluttering at St. James Park

The “Mothership” lives on.

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