Bloor News Blog Toronto

Hanky Panky At The Riverdale ZOO

Hanky Panky At The Riverdale ZOO

As a lifelong resident of ward 28, I’ve always felt that the Riverdale Farm was one of the true jewels of Cabbagetown. It is still a very important part of my life so I was genuinely disturbed when I learned that the farm was under threat of being closed down. The debate over the farm’s future took on a life of its own this past summer, and with tax-payers footing the bill for an army of volunteer staff providing free labour, they must have raised tens of thousands of dollars in the interim. The Riverdale Farm Advisory Committee need only point to the vast sums donated by Friends of Riverdale Farm (FRF) over the years as proof positive that the community has its full support behind them. Unlike most accredited charities who are only too willing to proudly point to their achievements, the FRF seems to prefer a more vague method of accounting. Although there are a handful of nebulous posts regarding unnamed programs funded and the “reinvesting of funds into existing facilities”, there is no mention whatsoever of verifiable contributions to the farm. In regards to the farm itself, after failing to find any visible proof of their generosity, I asked several of the city employees on site if they could point to any of FRF’s contributions. Unfortunately, none seemed willing to risk the wrath of their superiors. I contacted both Friends of Riverdale Farm and the Riverdale Farm Advisory Committee to ask whether they could provide any proof that FRF had donated anything more tangible than “community spirit” as that had been the public line these past several years. Neither group responded. Many of the Farmer’s Market vendors happily spoke anonymously about having been forced to join FRF, but, none were willing to risk their spot on Tuesday afternoons by publicly talking about the Manager’s behaviour. There are several instances that indicate former FRF Director, Elizabeth Harris has a long standing relationship with Ward 28 Councillor Pam McConnell. Now I am in no position to cast doubt on their relationship. However, Councillor McConnell’s membership this year on the FRF Steering Group and her subsequent failure to open FRF’s books to public scrutiny only adds to the actions of the city.

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