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The Globe and Mail

No saviour on the horizon for Toronto's Far Enough Farm

March 13, 2012, local kid's out on a spring break Lama Walk at High Park Zoo, Toronto. An area attraction for over 100 years, the zoo will close June 30, 2012 due to municiapal budget cuts.

Gregory Holmgren/Gregory Holmgren

With less than three months to go before it is set to close, Centre Island's Far Enough Farm has failed to find a single operator interested in tending to its horses, sheep, and ducks.

The city-owned attraction is slated to close at the end of June as part of Toronto's money-saving efforts.

The deadline for expressions of interest to the city to run the farm and the High Park Zoo passed earlier this week without any submissions. In the case of High Park Zoo, a three-year pledge to match donations up to $50,000 annually by the Honey Family Foundation means the facility is likely to remain open while a permanent arrangement is put in place.

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Councillor Sarah Doucette said the Friends of High Park Zoo had raised about $45,000 even before that announcement and have brought in an additional $13,000 since the Honey family made its pledge. The group is looking to raise $100,000 in total by June.

The continued operation of Far Enough Farm is less certain, but a group of residents and the local councillor are aiming to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 to keep it open for another year.

"I still think that there is a solution," said Steve Fry, president of the Friends of Toronto Islands. Mr. Fry said the Save Far Enough Farm campaign is drawing inspiration from the success of High Park and is focused on preventing the closure at the start of the summer season. "Once you turn something off, it's so hard to turn it on again," he said.

Councillor Pam McConnell, who represents the ward that includes the Toronto Islands, said while there were no formal expressions of interest, there were many informal inquiries. A major barrier, she believes, was that the agreement was for a single year. The city decided on the one-year arrangement in order to co-ordinate contracts for the farm and the nearby amusement park. A longer contract, she said, may have brought more interest.

Given that, she is hopeful that money can be found before the June deadline and that a longer-term arrangement can be put in place next year.

"All is not dead by any means," she said.

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