Makes my blood boil!

An article appeared in the Toronto Star today about the City of Toronto Transportation department squashing a family’s front-yard veggie garden. A garden where they were growing food to teach their four young children about urban agriculture. Because of “encroachment on city property.” Instead, Allan Smithies, Manager, Traffic Planning/Right-of-Way Management at City of Toronto thinks that sod (and maybe a few flowers) is the only thing that’s appropriate.

Mr. Smithies, you need to get with the times. Ever heard of the urban agriculture movement? If there was an issue with sight lines at an intersection (blocked by say, tall stalks of corn, for example), I could see having a discussion with the family letting them know that this causes a safety concern and that they should keep lower-growing vegetables in the problem area. But this guy just send them a letter saying the vegetable patch must go, or else. What an ill-informed, head-in-the-sand, Draconian bureaucrat.

I have a mind to write Mr. Smithies a letter of complaint. Thankfully, my raised beds are on my property. I should also note that the other day I noticed another small raised bed on the front lawn of a house one street north of me! In this neighbourhood, I can’t tell you how heart-warming that is. Hope they don’t get a letter from the evil Transportation pencil pushers.

We have new wheels!

Last night Chris and I finally got to go pick up our new car, a Volkswagen Jetta TDI Wagon, in silver. We’ve only been waiting 2 months for it to come from the factory.

Our new wheels!

Our new Jetta TDI

We’ve been planning to get rid of our very unnecessary two cars for quite some time, and probably would have done it sooner, but for the fact that we needed my car for taking Zeus anywhere (he wouldn’t fit into Chris’s car) and Chris’s car was simply more powerful and pleasurable to drive. Since we said goodbye to Zeus in April, it has been even more ridiculous that we’ve had two cars. Chris’s old car was a 1999 Mercury Cougar and mine was a 2002 Kia Rio 5-door.

We’d been considering a hybrid vs. the Jetta TDI (ultra-clean diesel) for some time, but hands down, the Jetta TDI is an amazing car, getting a fuel economy of 10.7L/100 km (city) and 7L/100 km (highway) with our manual transmission. It has the power we need for driving outside the city (the majority of our usage), which is simply not yet available in a hybrid car. Chris would certainly be the first in line to buy a purely electric car if such a thing were yet readily available in the marketplace, and comparable to the Jetta.

We went for the highline, which comes with all the bells and whistles, including a fantastic sunroof. This is by far the most luxurious car either one of us has ever owned and we are ecstatic. Yes, yes, it is a car, cars are evil, blah blah blah. But before the purists out there raise all hell, please know that as far as cars go, this is possibly the most efficient model out there. It won the 2009 Green Car of the Year Award. And keep in mind, we went from owning two far less fuel efficient cars to one, which is definitely a step in the right direction for reducing our carbon footprint. We rarely drive to work, preferring to stick to public transit. I’ve even recently re-instated my bicycle, which has been sitting derelict in the garage for the last couple of years. I’m now using it to get to the subway station in lieu of the ever-so-frustratingly slow and inconsistent 52 Lawrence TTC bus.

So, while it was kind of sad to say goodbye to my Zeus-mobile, and for Chris to say goodbye to the Coug, we’re both loving the Jetta so far, for the all of about 13 hours we’ve owned it.

Coming soon(?): Backyard Chickens
In other news, I’m also ecstatic to report that the City of Toronto’s Parks & Environment Committee, chaired by Councillor Paula Fletcher, is considering a pilot project to allow residents to keep backyard chickens! I’m throwing my wholehearted support behind this initiative. I will be one of the first to get a couple hens if this goes ahead. The unfortunate thing is that if you read the comments of the CBC story, you can see just how many ignorant people there are in this world, and that this initiative has a lot of resistance attached to it. We have some educating to do folks!