Toronto

In Kensington Market, the hunt is on for the mysterious vanishing planter

City officials are hot on the trail of a Kensington Market mystery. They're trying to track down a missing concrete planter that had become a local conversation piece and gathering place on Augusta Avenue.

Lowly concrete box had become a local gathering place

Alix Aylen cleaned up the planter, repainted it, and was growing herbs and perennials in it. (CBC News)

City officials are hot on the trail of a Kensington Market mystery. They're trying to track down a missing concrete planter that had become a local conversation piece and gathering place on Augusta Avenue.

The planter, which sat on public property near the curb, had deteriorated into a run down, concrete litter container until this past summer, when Bobby Gadda and his partner Alix Aylen moved into a nearby apartment.

Bobby Gadda, who lives close by a planter that's gone missing, pins up missing posters on Thursday evening. (CBC News)

"We decided to remove the contaminated soil and replace it with potting soil and we started to plant perennials over the course of the summer," Aylen said. "And just last week we decided we would paint it a nice pink."

She said she also planted some herbs and put up a sign offering them to passersby for free.

"On pedestrian Sundays, or any other day in the market, people would walk by and just hang around the planter a little more, and just enjoy the herbs so people could come by and enjoy it. It was a public feature."

The wayward planter, just after Bobby Gadda and partner Alix Aylen painted it a week or so ago. The planter, which had become a popular gathering place after it was rehabilitated by the couple, went missing Monday evening. (Bobby Gadda/Alix Aylen)

Then, as Gadda was arriving home from work on Monday evening, he says he saw two men with a forklift hijacking the planter.

"So I ran up and sat on the planter and the two guys —they were very nice — explained that the city had hired them to move all the planters in the neighbourhood for re-painting, which I thought was really strange because we just repainted ours," he said.

"Ultimately, I wasn't willing to chain myself to it, so I left and they took it away."

Only a bare patch in the pavement remains where a popular planter once stood next to a hydro pole on Augusta Avenue. (CBC News)

The next day he contacted the office of his city councillor, Joe Cressy, and the hunt was on.

Gadda said Thursday he's hoping to have the planter back, because of what it has come to mean to the neighbourhood.

"People hang out there, people leave stuff there, its kind of a free table - people leave clothes or mugs," he said "So it's a nice feature to have on the street."

Cressy said his office is checking with city departments to find out which — if any of them — picked up the planter, and what's become of it. But so far there's no indication the city is involved at all. 

In the meantime, Gadda began putting up posters throughout the neighbourhood Thursday in the hope of finding some clues to the planter's fate.

The Kensington Market BIA has also joined the hunt. 

And a local residents association has offered the couple a replacement planter.

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