Friday, December 5, 2014

45 years ago King City was "raped"

Photo by Barry Wallace
Watching the fellow in the photograph above, earlier this week, I couldn't help but remember the traumatic part of the village's history, back in the late '60s and early '70s, when Keele Street was widened to four lanes.   Apart from a  new dramatic, dispiriting deluge of transient traffic through the village, the cruelest cut was the cutting down of mature, 100-year-old maple trees, on both sides of Keele Street, from the centre of the village to the southern end of the older part of the village.   After the trees were cut down, property frontages were altered and lowered to such an extent that stone retaining walls were extensively installed, where required.   For the last few years, many of the walls have required remedial work.   That is what was taking place in the photo above.   45 years ago, in response to citizens' appeals against the road widening and stonework retaining walls, a York County official was quoted as saying: "You'll love the new road...we've done this before against opposition and the road becomes so popular we eventually have to take it out of the village and re-route it".   The quote is to be found in the booklet opposing the road widening published under the leadership of the inspired John Belknap who had his business premises and his home on Keele Street South.   He and his dedicated band of protesters were defeated of course and it was John Belknap who claimed King City had been "raped".   And now, after 45 years, yes, commuters and transients love the widened Keele Street (and later the King Road), as they pass through to other places.   And there has been a clamour by villagers for taking the widened roads out of the village but after decades of pleas the Region of York refers to the possibility as decades away, still.   A quote by the American writer , Philip Wylie, was included in the "raped" booklet.   It says: "Nothing nature created is allowed to stand in the way of any artifact of man, however slow and marvellous was the former in becoming, however quick and rude the latter".

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