The Tomato

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It took hours for the City to respond to fallen leaf

Photo: Kim Wiens

A young leaf’s death in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Sandy Hill in the early morning of July 20 has had a deep uniting effect on the community’s residents. The tragedy, and its aftermath has been compared to the Toronto community’s response to Conrad the raccoon’s untimely demise earlier in the month.

The leaf’s descent was witnessed by Jessica Day, a third-year environmental studies student at the University of Ottawa, who described the fall as “sad and very slow.”

Over the course of the day, residents of the neighbourhood identified the fallen leaf as a dedicated member of the community. One resident, Sven Wonder, described the green foliage as one who was “always relaxed and loved hanging around.”

“It waved at the residents from time to time, often taking vacations during the long Ottawa winters but never failing to return to the neighbourhood,” he said.

Many residents dropped by the scene of the leaf’s fall with heartfelt notes dictating its contributions to the community, other residents came by with flowers and a small casket was donated by the local Ottawa Caskets R’ Us.

The impact of the leaf’s fall was felt in the online community as well with tweets and Facebook posts being sent from all over Canada. The hashtag, #fallingforyou, became the number one trending hashtag in Canada, with a picture of the leaf being circulated online.

Many noted that the leaf was still very green and had much potential, while others lamented the amount of time it took to get help for the fallen leaf. Wonder later stated that the amount of time the City took to provide help was “disrespectful to the fallen.”

The flowers and cards dropped by during the day were followed by a candle lit vigil during the night. The vigil saw many members of the community coming out to support each other through this tough, leafless time. The vigil was attended by high profile political figures such as Mayor Jim Watson and environmentalist David Suzuki.

Sadly the leaf blew away halfway through the vigil.

While this event has brought many people together, there is some fear as to what it might signify. Some believe that it might signify the end of the warm weather. “I think winter is coming,” said Sandy Hill resident, Jon Snow.

Throughout this difficult time in Sandy Hill, one can only hope the sense of community brought on by the fall of the leaf will not be forgotten.