Winter Station “Midwinter Fire” to be removed early due to vandalism

The remains of the "Midwinter Fire" station, March 9. PHOTO: Lara O'Keefe

It seems someone took the name of one Winter Station far too literally.

In a disappointing turn of events, beachgoers found pieces of the “Midwinter Fire” Winter Stations art installation simmering in a fire pit in the early hours of March 7. Two days later, following yesterday’s windstorm, the station lay completely flattened against the sand with half of the original structure destroyed.

“Midwinter Fire” was designed by a team of Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design students at the University of Toronto and was one three institutional winners of the contest.

“A lot of hard work and creativity goes into putting on Winter Stations each year and we are thrilled tens of thousands of visitors get to enjoy the beach and these installations each winter. We are especially pleased to be able to give a platform to institutions like University of Toronto, Humber College and the University of Waterloo and their talented students,” said the Winter Stations team.

Made to replicate a midwinter interest garden — a garden that showcases plants that flower and bloom during the winter — the installation was meant to start a narrative about the relationship that we, as city dwellers, have with our urban ecology. The artists used two species of dogwood in the design, which were provided by Toronto Region Conservation Authority and Connon Nursery. Many of these have since gone missing, with only empty holes remaining in their place.

This isn’t the first time the winter stations have been vandalized. Last year, architect Douglas Cardinal’s “Fire Place” — a curved cedar structure with seating surrounding a community fireplace — was subject to vandalism. Pieces of cedar were torn off the structure and burned in the fire pit in the same manner as this year’s incident.

By the end of June last year, nearly half of the structure had been destroyed.

Members of the community rallied to salvage Fire Place and with the help of local contractors including Scott Mifflin of Toronto Green Builders, a grant from Toronto Beach Rotary and discounted supplies from Danforth Lumber, the structure was repaired, although its maintenance has been an ongoing issue. 

This year, organizers are opting to simply remove the structure. 

“Unfortunately, University of Toronto’s elegant installation Midwinter Fire will be removed early due to some vandalism that was compounded by last night’s high winds,” said the Winter Stations team. “The U of T design team is aware and supports the decision. Winter Stations thanks both students and faculty for their outstanding contribution this year.”

This post has been updated.

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The absolute wrong thing to do is to discontinue this Winter Station because of vandalism. It means they win and we lose.
The City has By Law Enforcers, where are they? Do you ever see them? If they know an area is a high value target or risk, then why don’t they pay attention to it? Maybe By Law people should be working more night shifts. So retreating and surrendering is not the answer. It’s pathetic to let these criminals get away with this. The result will be they will find something else to destroy. Rise up!

In my experience the “law” enforcers are busy scooping up male teens who are wandering home in the early hours. They are out and so just driving along the Martin Goodman Trail could deter the perpetrators!!

Once again the “idea” and “image” of the Beach community comes face-to-face with the reality of it. There are some very destructive people who live in this neighborhood. There are some very nasty and dangerous ones too. There are also vandals, thieves and scammers. There are people who will steal your mail and packages from your front porch, and there are people who will burglarize your home if you’re not there to protect it. There are even people who will steal your dog. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality of this neighborhood in 2017.

The fire pit installation was not vandalized until long after the Winter Station event had been completed last year.

To say that ongoing maintenance has been an issue is an understatement. Following its rebuilding, it has been cannibalized again and only parts of the framing are remaining. It is now little more than an eyesore.

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