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Swish List

We shouldn’t have to wait hours in line to get to Hanlan’s, our little piece of paradise

Getting to Hanlan’s Point shouldn’t take as long as it does.  Credit: Jamo Best

Every election, we try to grill candidates 
on whether they support queer issues that are already top of mind. But this year, in 
an effort to lead the conversation, Xtra is tossing out new ideas to make our city better and our community stronger. We’re calling it the Swish List, and between now and the election, we’ll be publishing new ideas from our writers and members of the community

As summer becomes a fading memory, we bid adieu to one of Toronto’s sunshine traditions: enduring the criminally long wait to board a ferry to the islands.

The ferry trip was particularly gruelling this year, after federal safety inspectors forced the parks service, which operates the ferry, to reduce the number of passengers carried on each trip.

That Torontonians endure this long, tedious death march to our local amusement park and nude beach is not a testament to our perseverance but to our pig-headedness. At its narrowest, the span of water separating the islands from the city is less than 50 metres. That we haven’t constructed an accessible fixed link is laughable.

A decade ago, the city rose up against a bridge to the islands in hopes that the fledgling airport wouldn’t expand. Well, it did anyway. Torontonians mostly love it now, and the Toronto Port Authority is building a private tunnel to its island terminal that won’t be open to sunbathers.

Let’s fix this nonsense. A small bridge on the east side could connect the islands to Cherry Beach and could be limited to pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles only. On the west, the city should make an agreement with the airport to allow access via the tunnel to the beach.

The ferry service could remain as well, but it should be reformed. Put it under the control of the TTC instead of the parks service. This would eliminate the risk of a city workers’ strike cutting the service (remember 2009?), and the fare could be integrated with TTC fare and Presto, saving significantly on fare collection and administration (instead, the city is creating its own new ticketing software).

Hanlan’s is our backyard. Getting to it should be simple.