At the final North York Community Council session of the term, I asked Howard Moscoe to accompany me to the wedding chapel at North York Civic Centre.
In need of a photo for an article I was writing about Moscoe’s call to clean up parts of the civic centre, including what he called the “funereal-looking chapel”. I thought he would be the natural choice for photo subject.
The councillor obligingly played along, and off we went, heading just around the corner from council chambers.
Though I have spoken with Moscoe over the phone several times, this was one of the rare opportunities I had to spend time with the veteran councillor in person.
For someone who had a reputation for being outspoken, even at times outlandish, there was a certain shy quality to Moscoe; I found him more soft-spoken than anything.
I was amused to see the media-friendly Moscoe I was more accustomed to when we stepped inside the chapel. He sprung into photo-op action, giving me the “pee-yew” hold-the-nose pose to illustrate his discontent with the state of the North York wedding chapel.
The shoot took only a few minutes, and we shook hands before parting ways.
Little did I know that it would be my first and last encounter with Moscoe at community council — a few weeks later, the 31-year municipal rep announced he would not be seeking re-election.
Earlier, watching the community council proceedings, I had observed yet another side of Moscoe: that of a seasoned political pro. With subdued ferocity, he’d pounce on speakers, urging them to explain themselves should he disagree with their statements, or gently probe a fellow councillor on matters relating to their ward.
Seated a few chairs down from Moscoe in the chambers, outgoing York-Centre councillor Mike Feldman had a similar style — he approached agenda items with the wisdom and knowledge of someone who was there long before North York (the city) ceased to exist.
To steal a line from a colleague, the pair were like the elder statesmen of community council.
It was business as usual for most of the afternoon, but I felt compelled to stick around to the very end, wondering if there would be any good bye speeches.
Indeed, both Feldman and Moscoe were among those who spoke graciously of their peers and of the work they’d all done together over the past four years at community council.
It was sweet, and I felt myself wishing there wouldn’t be such a huge changeover at city hall this fall.
But change is a-comin’. And like the marital unions taking place in the dingy North York wedding chapel, it’ll be for better or worse.
I just hope we elect knowledgeable, but colourful candidates to represent us. I can’t help but wonder who will be the next councillor to dress as Little Bo Peep, as Moscoe did in 2005 to raise awareness about transit issues.
Around this time in 2006, the National Post ran an article about Feldman, Moscoe and other veteran North York councillors and the circumstances surrounding their re-election.
It’s not so much the story, but the snappy headline that stood out: North York Lions’ last Roar?’
That headline is much more relevant today, and definitely not a question anymore.
So, happy retirement to those who knew how to roar on council — whether we agreed with you or not.
And to their successors: Hope you were paying attention.
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