The City of Toronto at one point tried to be an example to the world that peace was a vital issue to the urban communities. A major statement of this was the establishment of the Peace Gardens in Nathan Philips Square in 1984. The establishment of a permanent Peace Garden give a visual presence to the spirit of the 1983 City of Toronto decision declaring itself a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.
However this year the promise of the Peace Gardens, a permanent monument to a living hope, has been eroded. The City of Toronto in wanting to repair and upgrade Nathan Philips Square, within which is the Peace Gardens, has decided it no longer serves a purpose. With the possible exception of a relocated pavilion, the Peace Gardens is to be destroyed as a part of the Nathan Philips Square redevelopment.
It seems fitting that only a few days after finally deciding that the Peace Gardens no longer fits the image of Toronto City Council unanimously agreed to continue with pro-war “I support our troops” stickers on emergency service vehicles.
In a city that once valued monuments to peace there is now open support for war. It is only a few weeks since the Mayor of Toronto called for stricker gun control legislation. Armed violence is all too common in Toronto and the desire for peace in our neighbourhoods is something that crosses otherwise political and communal boundaries. This effort to promote disarmament in our homes and streets is undercut by recent actions by the City of Toronto council.
The work for peace is important both locally and globally. If we want to work for peace locally, we shouldn’t undermind it by justifying violence within and between nations.