‘Free the Beach’ vows to keep the pressure on council

The residents’ group which formed to oppose the reassignment of Tuggs Inc.’s lease to Cara Operations Limited – and capitalize on the 2007 Tuggs lease being thrust into the spotlight – says it plans to continue to put pressure on elected officials to return control of the park lands to the Beach community.

City council voted October 5 to reassign the controversial lease and keep a report on the subject confidential. It also voted to enter into a discussion with Tuggs about its sponsorship and other rights to the eastern beach park lands, a motion pushed by Ward 32 councillor Mary Margaret McMahon.

Cathy Dunphy and Gord Holtam, two of the founders of the Free the Beach group, say that despite losing their push to stop the lease reassignment and force Tuggs to renegotiate its lease, they are proud of what their “little movement” accomplished over the last several weeks and are eager to keep the momentum going.

The group gathered testimonies from people who said they have struggled to deal with Tuggs’s sponsorship conditions and circulated a petition and email drive. Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt councillor Jim Karygiannis, who voted for the reassignment, lamented the 1,028 emails he received on the subject at council October 5.

“We got 1,028 emails on this subject alone,” said Karygiannis. “That was locally driven. Locally driven. For what? For us to change our mind. Just because somebody down there didn’t like it. Well guess what? We are in an agreement.”

Free the Beach plans to keep fighting that agreement. The group is going to keep their website active, push to make city documents public, and, if there is enough interest, host a community meeting to talk next steps.

More transparency continues to be top of mind, with Dunphy noting that the group is in the strange position of losing but having “no clue as to why we lost.”

Holtom said he is worried that McMahon’s motion “doesn’t have any teeth.”

“I have no idea if she has something special to lure Tuggs to the table,” added Dunphy. “I hope so. It’s our lifeline.”

Both agree that the focus should now be on ensuring McMahon’s motion is successful.

“Obviously, Beachers care about this issue,” said Dunphy, noting the idea is to make the Beach more enjoyable for the whole city.

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