By Ingrid Sapona
It was haul out this past weekend at my sail club. Since
we’re a self-help club, members have to put in a certain number of work hours
each year. For haul out we hire cranes and crane operators, but members do all
the other work. Over the weekend we hauled over 300 boats, but there’s always
down time between them. So, there’s lots of opportunity for chit-chat. Indeed,
one of the conversations from the weekend has had me thinking.
One of the guys that used to be on my crew (I’ll call him
Jon) wasn’t working with us this year. When he brought his boat over to be
hauled, someone teased him about abandoning us. He explained that he didn’t
need any more work hours and that this likely will be his last haul out at our
club because they’ve applied for membership at a club on the Toronto Islands.
The club they want to move to is one of the oldest in the
area and is a favourite destination for many of us. That said, there are trade-offs
with being at that club, not the least of which is that you have to take the
ferry to get there. The thought of schlepping all your stuff by ferry –
especially in the spring and fall – is not appealing for many.
As we were waiting for the crane, Jon told us the rest of
his news: they’re moving to the island. My initial thought was that he must
mean an island in the Caribbean, as I know more-and-more sailors who are
choosing to summer on their boat in Toronto and head to the Caribbean for the
winter. Curious if that was their plan, I asked what island. With an even
bigger smile, he said: Algonquin Island.
It took me a couple minutes to make the connection – Algonquin
Island is one of the Toronto Islands. There are only 262 homes on the islands
and they aren’t bought and sold through the open market. Because the islands
are public, the government created a trust to manage the land and buildings on
the islands. Residents have title to their homes, but they lease the property
from the government and sales are carried out through the trust under strict
Getting one of the homes pretty much requires a harmonic
convergence. First you have to submit an application to get on the waiting list,
which is capped at 500 names. From time-to-time people take themselves off the waiting
list and when the list is down to about 475 names, they hold a public lottery
to bring the number back up to 500.
Then, when a house becomes available, it basically goes to
the person highest on the list who wants it. According to the trust’s website, only
54 island homes have been sold since 1994.
I had read an article about it years ago when they were
having one of the rare lotteries for the waiting list and I toyed with entering
the lottery, but I never did. So, I was excited for Jon, if a bit jealous.
Someone then asked Jon how long they’ve been on the waiting
list and he said 20 years. He was clearly excited, but anxious too, as he said
that once a house becomes available and you’re high enough on the list – it all
happens very quickly, which must be especially nerve-wracking after waiting so
Afterward, a few of us were talking about Jon’s news. One of
the guys on the crew said, “Think about it – 20 years. I don’t know that
there’s anything I wanted 20 years ago that I still want today.” The part of me
that always romanticized the idea of living on the islands quickly (albeit
silently) responded, “I’d still want that after 20 years”.
But beyond the fantasy of a home on the Toronto Islands, I
have been thinking about the things I wanted 20 years ago. It’s kind of an
interesting exercise. Looking back at the dreams, hopes, and aspirations I had
20 years ago, I guess I’ve accomplished those that I could and I suppose I’ve
let some of them go. For the life of me, I can’t think of any that were so
important that 20 years later I’m still thinking of them or wishing they’d happen.
That’s kind of reassuring…
What about you? Any items from 20 years ago that you’re
still waiting for? What about items you want now – how many of those would you
wait 20 years for?
© 2014 Ingrid Sapona