Conflicting Identities of Garrison Creek
Toronto’s Garrison Creek has gained a near mythical quality in both the minds and the plans of the city’s people. In the century since its burial and integration into the combined sewer network, there has been a growing tension between the creek’s identity as an ecological entity, and its identity as a sewer. This research explores these two faces of the Garrison, the creek and the sewer in turn, and explores how different groups have come to relate to the creek in various ways. Due to these two identities, Garrison Creek exemplifies a false division in how we have come to value urban water by celebrating water on the landscape and simultaneously dismissing the water that flows through our pipes. Garrison Creek reminds us that these systems are the same. This division limits our ability to think comprehensively about urban water and recognize the complexity of these systems that we interact with daily. In the past 20 years, several plans and projects have made the creek a key element and have attempted to “bring it back” in ways both physical and symbolic. Through a critical exploration of these plans and projects through the lens of urban political ecology, this research attempts to gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of our relationship these urban watersheds. This research provides a fine-grain exploration of the city’s relationship to its buried water and the evolution of these relationships over time. While based in the history of this place, this research also attempts to look forward to understand how our relationship to urban water can be improved in the face of both increased urban flooding and a need for reconciliation in Canada.