Toronto senior stages one-man protest to get pothole fixed by city crews
Unhappy with a gaping pothole in his north Toronto neighbourhood, an 84-year-old man took it upon himself to make sure crews came and patched it up.
Edward Zaretsky told CTV News Toronto that he’s repeatedly called the city’s 311 services, asking them to send a crew to fix a pothole on Torresdale Avenue near Antibes Drive.
After three weeks of calling, Zaretsky said the pothole was never fixed, so he came up with a plan of his own.
“I told them at 9 o’clock I would block the road with my car,” he said.
“I called 311 and I told them. They said, ‘You’ll have to move your car,’ and I said ‘I’m not moving my car, you’ll have to get the police.’”
On Thursday morning, Zaretsky did just that.
He parked his minivan shortly after 9 a.m. in front of the rough patch of road on Torresdale Avenue and sat in the front seat with his arm resting out of the open window.
Police eventually arrived and asked him to move his minivan but Zaretsky didn’t budge.
"I said, 'No, you'll have to arrest me," he said.
Three hours later, city crews showed up and started working on filling the potholes in question.
Zaretsky, still in his van, had a front row seat to watch a successful outcome to his protest take shape.
When asked about the pothole protest at an unrelated event on Thursday, Mayor John Tory defended city workers, saying fluctuating weather has hampered pothole repair efforts.
Thus far this year, Tory has assigned crews across the city on three different pothole repair blitzes.
“I think people are surprised when we tell them that each year we repair approximately 200,000-plus potholes,” he said.
“This year it’s been particularly difficult because of the changes to the weather but I will tell you in the three blitzes I’ve requested take place in order to try and stay on top of this, we’ve done I think 8,000 or 10,000 or more than 10,000 in those three blitz.”
According to a city spokesperson, crews have filled 82,017 potholes this year alone. That number includes 23,292 potholes in the North York area.
They added that crews had been assigned to visit Zaretsky’s neighbourhood after repairs were finished on arterial roads and were expected there sometime yesterday or today.
“I had somebody else tell me in the last couple of days that when he put his pothole into the system, it was fixed the same day,” Tory said. “So I guess we do our best and if we need to do more, of course we’re going to continue to do so.”
Zaretsky is already well-known to residents in the Finch Avenue and Bathurst Street area as the operator of community group, Citizens Alliance Group. He also ran for city council in 2010.
But after the one-man pothole protest, he’s become a bit of a hero to some.
“I have to go along this street three or four times a day,” one woman, who did not provide her name, said as she drove by. “What that man did was amazing.”
When asked if he thought the tactics he used to get the pothole filled – bumping him to the “front of the line" – was unfair, Zaretsky made no apologies.
“That's wonderful,” he said with a smile. “Now they can go to the front of the line.”
With files from CTV News Toronto's John Musselman