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World - Americas

Toronto Island residents resist bridge to city

Toronto Island
Scenes of Tornonto Island  
November 22, 1998
Web posted at: 9:56 a.m. EST (1456 GMT)

TORONTO (CNN) -- Minutes by ferry from the commotion of Canada's biggest city, Toronto Island is a world apart. There are no private cars, slowing life down to the pace of bicycles, and little crime.

"It's very safe," says island resident Elizabeth Amer. "You can let your kids move around freely. You don't have to be holding their hand every minute."

But some residents fear that could change if a plan to build a bridge linking the island to the city goes through.

"The city has begun to sprawl," Amer said. "It's sprawled north, east and west. It seems there's almost an inevitable push to push it south (toward the island) as well."

Advocates of the bridge say it will make it easier for emergency vehicles to get to the island, as well as boost passenger numbers at a small airport on Toronto Island.

"We're the only city that has a city center airport where tourists and business people can fly right to within walking distance of the major venues," said John Morand of the Toronto Harbor Commission. "This would be a tremendous advantage in terms of our bid for the 2008 Olympics."

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CNN's Natalie Pawelski reports on the bridge controversy
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Island residents agree that the bridge would likely boost business at the airport -- and that's why they oppose it. A busier airport would be noisier and harmful to the environment, they say.

A bridge also would make it harder for boaters to get to Lake Ontario, they argue.

The Toronto City Council is still reviewing the bridge plan, and it is unlikely that the proposal will get off the ground any time soon.

Meanwhile, island residents are standing firm against what they see as the latest threat to their way of life. In the 1950s, they successfully fought a plan by the city to raze a neighborhood on the island and turn it into a park.

"It should be preserved because people love it so much," said island resident Laurie Jones. "People have been willing to stick around here and fight for it for a generation. People have said they won't move away from here for any reason."

Correspondent Natalie Pawelski contributed to this report

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