The squirrels are going nuts!

I walked by St. James park on the way to work this morning and saw the effects of the city’s recent resodding project, completed a few days ago after the Occupy Toronto protesters had finally cleared away the last of their tents (or had them removed by the police). The lawns look great and there’s no sign now of the churned-up mud and ruts, caused by the tramp of hundreds of feet during the occupation. The park now looks very clean and manicured and professionally maintained and welcoming.

The only thing wrong with this picture is that the resident squirrels now seem to have lost all their cached supplies of nuts and seeds and whatever else they bury just beneath the surface, to help them survive the winter months. The top soil was removed during the resodding, so any food items they must have buried there recently have also been removed and taken away with the old dirt.

Right now, there are lots of squirrels in the park that appear to be frantically searching for any sign of hidden food supplies.

It really is a hive of activity out there!

I hope most of them make it through the winter. They say there might not be much snow this year, so any food they manage to bury between now and the start of a hard freeze should be fairly easy for them to recover, I would hope. And I guess they may have to rely on the kindness of strangers more, this time around.

Occupy Toronto: It’s all quiet now

Walking through St. James park this morning, I’m struck by how quiet and empty it is—except for a few pedestrians making their way to work—after the Occupy Toronto protesters were evicted yesterday. According to the news this morning, the last remaining protesters were physically removed during the night from the library yurt, which had become a final rallying point for the Toronto movement.

Apparently, the protest will continue for a short while in the form of marches and gatherings in Nathan Phillips Square at Queen and Bay Streets. But for now, it looks like the park and the residents of this neighbourhood finally have a reprieve from all the activity that’s been taking place this past 5 weeks.

Looking at all the ruts and churned up mud caused by the tramp of hundreds of boots over these past weeks, I’m not sure how long it will be before the park regains a semblance of its former glory. It will, in the end, but it’ll take some time and a bit of care by city workers, I think.

Occupy Toronto: Mexican stand-off

The police are still trying to evict the protesters at St. James park. According to people I spoke to there, they carried a passive protester out of one the temporary, barricaded structures, which then raised the ire of the crowd. This happened on the east side of the St. James cathedral and the police quickly formed a circle around the makeshift structure where the crowd—which seemed to be more curious bystanders and reporters than protesters—then moved forward to face the police while chanting “Let her go!”

After a while, the crowd then shifted away from the police after hearing a rallying cry of “Back to the library!”, where some other protesters had placed themselves inside to prevent the yurt from being torn down. As soon as their fellow protesters surrounded the library, the people inside quickly emerged to cheers and thanks from the other protesters.

Not much reaction from the police so far, they seem to be calm and restrained in the face of the protests. Many of the tents I’ve seen over the past few weeks have disappeared, taken away by the city workers and by-law officers.
Photos and videos below:

Occupy Toronto eviction underway

I just walked through St. James park on my way to work, where the police are out in force as the eviction of the Occupy Toronto protesters is currently underway. There’s no sense of impending confrontation from either side yet; the police are simply shadowing the by-law officers as they go about their business of taking tents down and loading them into trucks.

As I made my way towards the Library Yurt in the middle of the camp ground, I saw lots of reporters with cameras at the ready, as well as ordinary citizens out and about, taking photos or video footage, myself included. The yurt has been barricaded and is surrounded by a group of protesters. Apparently, two of their members have chained themselves inside as a last stand protest of sorts. If any action is going to take place, this is where it will happen, I think. The yurt has the greatest concentration of protesters surrounding it, some of them masked. I managed to speak to one of them, as I asked him how had things been going with the police, so far. He told me it was all quite friendly and calm, but that they’d just been informed that if they continue to occupy the yurt then they were going to bring in the sound canons.

King Street between Church and Jarvis has been closed to all but foot traffic and public transport. There are lots of police vehicles lining King Street East; cruisers, buses filled with police officers, police on bikes and on foot wearing riot gear.

In the meantime the protesters seem quite calm, and some of them are holding an impromptu concert in the central gazebo.