City of Toronto halts new Lovelocks fad on Humber River foot bridge

Couples looking for a way to show off their everlasting love have been attaching padlocks to fences or bridges for years and now that trend appears to be gaining popularity in Toronto.

But before the fad could really get going, the city of Toronto is putting up the stop sign.

According to the Toronto Star, a crew of workers armed with lock cutters showed up at the Humber River foot bridge early Friday morning to cut a few dozen locks that were attached to the bridge's cables. Only three remain.

"Esthetically, they just don't look good," said city parks manager Kevin Bowser to the Star. "That's a really picturesque point of the city. If we've got all kinds of hanging, rusting locks there, it just won't look that appealing."

He added part of the reason for removing them was structural problems could arise if a lot of people leave locks on the bridge.

While the city of Toronto seems to be against the idea, the locks fill bridges and gates in other countries. Couples usually write something on the lock and throw away the key, symbolically locking their love forever.

"Around the world cities from Moscow to Rome are filled with fences, gates and poles adorned with padlocks," reads the Lovelocks website. The locks "are an expression of hope and humanity, connecting people around the world with the one thing that unites us all: LOVE."

The website suggests the custom is believed to have originated in China, but gained popularity in Rome with couples following the example of two characters in a popular Redericio Moccia book. The male character and his potential lover wrap a lock and chain around a lamppost on the northern side of the Ponte Milvio, one of Rome's oldest and most famous bridges. They throw away the key and he says now they "will never leave each other."

Moccia said he likes the locks because they are a physical embodiment of emotions.

One of the most popular places is on the Hohenzollernbruecke bridge in Cologne, Germany where most of the fence can't actually be seen because it is covered in locks.

While the idea may bring a tear to your eye, many other people and places are also against it. In 2010, the locks disappeared suddenly from Paris bridges after people at a town hall meeting said the locks raised problems with preserving historical sites, but they returned almost immediately. In 2006, the city of Florence cut thousands affixed to the Ponte Vecchio bridge because of aesthetic reasons and they said they scratch and dent the bridge. And on the Wild Pacific Trail on Vancouver Island, people have said the locks are a distraction from nature.

It is unsure if the locks will return to the Humber River foot bridge as they did to Paris bridges, but for couples looking for something nicer than an ordinary pad lock inked with magic marker, Lovelocks sells fancy, engraved ones.

(Getty Images photo of locks on Hohenzollernbruecke bridge in Cologne, Germany)