June 5, 2000

Nobody Could Make This Up

It has come to my attention that the city of Toronto is in crisis.*

Toronto. The largest city in Canada; population over 4 million; the city that thinks it's a country.

Toronto. The closest thing Canada has to an American city. Where they call out the army for snow removal.

Toronto. Where they try to attract tourists by scattering fiberglass moose all over the city. As many as 300 of them, purchased by corporate sponsors.

Three.
Hundred.
Moose.

This latest gimmick was the brainchild of duly elected Mayor Mel Lastman (campaign slogan: "The Lastman you should vote for!") and was purportedly inspired by a similar promotion in Chicago, the Cow Parade.

Three HUNDRED Moose?!

Sadly, the moose in Toronto are meeting a similar fate to the cows in Chicago: vandalism (particularly antler-swiping) and graffitti.

The city is now spending over one million dollars in maintenance and support of the "moose crew", who have been hired to protect, reassemble, and clean up the beleaguered animals. There is also a 24 hour hotline.

The moose seem to have different themes, and are decorated by local artists. Examples: Pinstripe Moose, in the financial district; Alexander Graham Moose, at BCE Place; Moose Case, decorated in early Samsonite, at the Marriott Hotel; Ronald Moose, at Ronald McDonald House, and my personal favourite, Pasta Moose, whose artist is reported to have spent over one hundred hours gluing individual noodles on her chunk of fiberglass.

And they say I need a life..

Of course, all this um.. difficulty has inspired a website, AntlerWatch.com: "the Alliance of Nervous Torontonians Leery of Evil Ruffians Who Abscond Taking Cervidae Headgear; Formerly CCRAP ( Citizens Concerned about Removal of Antler Parts)."

(The latter is an amusing gibe at Canada's newest political party which was briefly known as the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, until they thought better of it. No, I don't expect you to believe me. Just look here or here.)

The AntlerWatch website attempts to keep abreast of the status of some of the moose and has photos of them in various states of disarry (or total absence), and even some photos of (alleged) vandals in (alleged) action.

Montreal has had its share of disasters, white elephants, and misbegotten pipe dreams, but not even a crumbling stadium and an airport far enough away to be in the next city come close to this in laughing-stock potential. I'll bet the saner citizens of Toronto could think of just a few better things to do with the corporate and city money this project has absorbed. Then again, there's no such thing as bad publicity.. but we must be getting close?

* References:

Reuters News Story
Canadian Press News Story

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