Turf & Rec

A good news story that needed to be told

February 13, 2012  By  Mike Jiggens

Congratulations to the army of volunteers who stepped up to the plate
in December and restored Toronto’s St. James Park which, over the
course of 40 days last fall, had become nothing more than a mud pit.

The park, of course, had been the site of the Occupy Toronto protest a little earlier that fall, becoming sprawled out into a temporary tent city. The multitude of protesters had trampled the city treasure into something ugly during their month-plus-long standoff.

A call to arms was made once the protest reached its peaceful conclusion, and several individuals connected to the green industry rolled up their sleeves to aerate the park, topdress it and lay fresh sod atop the reconditioned surface. Additionally, new mulch was spread around trees and shrubs which were also pruned as necessary.

Amidst the largely negative stories surrounding the turfgrass industry in recent years, here is one that puts a positive slant on things. The story generated plenty of mainstream media coverage, both electronically and in print, and the general public was able to see that our industry is not the bad guy bent on destroying the local environment.


This was all positive news, and the job didn’t cost the Toronto taxpayer a dime. All labour and materials were donated.

Mayor Rob Ford couldn’t thank the industry and its volunteers enough. Addressing those in attendance at Landscape Ontario’s annual awards of excellence presentations in January, he said, “You have established a high standard of giving and demonstrated community spirit for others to follow.”


There was no ulterior motive for the sod, lawn and landscape industry volunteers who stepped forward to restore the park. It wasn’t as if these individuals were rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a huge public relations coup that would cast the industry in a better light than it has seen in recent years. This is a project that would have gone forward regardless of the past few years’ politics.

The fact that this happened in Canada’s largest media market was an added bonus. Word of this act of generosity spread far and wide. Perhaps now the general public may be able to alter its perception of the turfgrass maintenance industry, from the organized syndicate of environmental bad guys the activists have painted it to be to one which demonstrates what the industry has been saying about itself all along—that it is a true steward of the environment. –

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