Far Enough Farm not far enough from city budget cutters

Help wanted: Toronto’s parks department is seeking an interested someone to run its island farm in the shadows of Toronto’s downtown skyscrapers. A desire to work with both animals and the public is an asset.

Far Enough Farm on Centre Island is on the chopping block and may close at the end of June, eliminating five jobs along with it, unless the parks department can turn the attraction over to new management.

“As directed by city council, we’ve put out a request for expression of interest, which means that anyone that might have an interest can express it to us so we can look at it more closely in terms of how they would run the farm,” Toronto parks director Richard Ubbens said.

Other Parks and Recreation cuts as a result of the 2012 city budget:

  • Five wading pools will be closed (there are currently 109).
  • Work will end on rejuvenation of abandoned flower beds.
  • Flower and shrub planting will be cut back.
  • Horticulture work will be cut by $600,000.
  • High Park Zoo will close unless other operators are found.

The farm, which opened in 1959 and claims Centreville as its neighbour, costs just over $200,000 annually to operate.

It is unfortunate that the city’s recent focus on cutting costs has resulted in the potential closure of some of the city’s unique facilities, including the farm, said Pam McConnell, the area’s city councillor.

“Far Enough Farm offers a rare opportunity for families to interact with animals in our city while enhancing the island experience,” she said.

McConnell is working with the parks department to see if amalgamating the farm with Centreville, its close neighbour, is feasible.

If not, it may be difficult to find someone to run the farm because of how close it is to Centreville, Ubbens said.

But no matter who runs the farm, he said, changes will have to be made to the way it is currently operated, meaning year-round operation and free admission may end.

It’s a possibility McConnell said she’d rather not see.

“My preference would have been to have all of these programs paid by tax dollars and open to all residents and visitors,” she said.