For Immediate Release, September 24, 2007
Smog Hikers put up 1,430 messages
Postering bylaws prevent hike from reaching goal
On Monday afternoon, the Toronto Smog Hike reached Highway 407, after walking over 20km from Lake Ontario. The hikers were placing 1,700 messages on lamp posts to commemorate the 1,700 annual smog-related deaths in Toronto.
The hike came to an unexpected halt when York Region Police informed the hikers that both the cities of Vaughan (west side of Yonge) and Markham (east side of Yonge) have anti-postering bylaws that prevent citizens or organizations from displaying materials on utility poles.
The hikers still had 270 silhouettes representing 270 smog victims to place on lamp posts.
"The Supreme Court has already ruled on such bylaws, and has declared them to be a violation of charter rights regarding free expression" said Dave Meslin, one of the hikers and a former activist with the Toronto Public Space Committee. "But today we are not here to challenge bylaws in York Region. We're here to raise awareness about the staggering number of annual smog-related deaths in Toronto.”
Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, expressed regret with how the hike ended. Added Hartmann “It’s sad that we have laws to stop postering but don’t have laws that stop smog and smog deaths.”
While the hike couldn’t be completed as planned, Hartmann said the hike was a resounding success. “We met thousands of Torontonians on the street during the hike. We spoke to thousands of Torontonians before the hike. Today, we can say a lot more people are aware of Toronto’s killer smog –and what needs to be done to stop it. It’s sad that we had to walk all the way up to York Region to find enough lamp posts to remember Toronto’s smog victims.”
Here (left) are some of the many personal messages written by Torontonians
to raise awareness about smog, smog-related illnesses and deaths.
Before being posted along Yonge Street, they were on display at Harbour Square
park and the TEA banner (above) encouraged by-standers to read the
messages and join the hike.