|Pope Squat: Lobby Day and Rally at City Council Meeting|
TWO IMPORTANT ACTIONS TO PUT THE POPE SQUAT AT THE TOP OF COUNCIL’S AGENDA
With astounding success, the OCAP Pope Squat is now well into its second month. Homeless people and their allies have established a community and taken forward the whole fight against homelessness and underhousing in Toronto. Our goal, however, is not just to win the right to squat the property but to compel the levels of government to set a vital precedent by accepting a self managed social housing project at 1510 King Street West.
We are doing all we can to take this forward on our own while we pressure City Hall to act. Renovations are underway, a model suite is being prepared at the site and, with community partners, we are creating the legal entity at the site that could assume control of a housing project. The City, however, has not yet faced up to its responsibilities. The motion passed by Council calls on the Province to hand over the property and the Province will be very unlikely to admit to ownership. What we do know, though, is that the City sent all with a stake in the property a communication in December of 2000 warning that the building would be seized if back taxes weren’t paid. If they had that power then, they have it now and we demand that the City take over the property, provide housing during the renovation period to those presently there and open negotiations around the creation of self managed housing.
We have prepared (and include with this notice) a model resolution that outlines our position and we have two upcoming actions to press for City Council to adopt it. Below are the details of these.
* * * * * * * LOBBY DAY AT CITY HALL. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13. MEET AT 11.00 AM IN FRONT OF BUILDING.
We are preparing a mass lobby of Council members. If you would like to be part of one of the delegations that will meet with the politicians or their representatives, here’s how things will work.
* Find out who you elected member of Council is.
* Call the OCAP office and offer your help. We will assign you to a team of people meeting with a Council member.
* If you are the first person calling in from your particular ward, we will ask you to phone and make an appointment.
* On the day, we will proceed together to the lobby area of the Councillors’ offices, go to our meetings and press the demands contained in the model resolution. We will call on them to put this on the floor of the next Council meeting and to adopt it at that session.
TAKING THE POPE SQUAT TO THE NEXT MEETING OF COUNCIL. MEET IN FRONT OF CITY HALL ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, AT 2.00 PM
We shall rally in front of the building to show some of the community support that exists and then go to the Council Chambers to eliminate any lingering doubt on the matter. We hope and expect, that they will be ready to discuss this vital issue. (Did not this same Council declare homelessness a national disaster?) We will be ready to go into the chambers to witness politicians who do the right thing and provide a small but important beginning in the work of dealing with the housing crisis. We are also prepared, however, for our visit to the gathering to be a restrained yet unmistakable reminder that the community will no longer accept talk as a substitute for action and that the Pope Squat is something they just can’t hide from. We need every single person available to come out and show their support on the 17th!
* * * * * * MODEL RESOLUTION FOR CITY COUNCIL ON POPE SQUAT
“Given that a housing crisis exists in this City, with vast waiting lists for social housing, rampant evictions and a level of homelessness that the City Council has declared a disaster.”
“Given that an attempt is underway to turn the building at 1510 King Street West into social housing.”
“Given that this initiative is widely supported in Parkdale and by many labour, faith and community based organizations.”
“And, given that the City of Toronto felt able to seize the property as long ago as December of 2000 and communicated this to all those with a financial interest in it.”
“Toronto City Council will take over the property in question without delay and begin its transformation into social housing.”
“Council will also ensure that those homeless people who are presently living at the site be housed during the renovation period.”
“As the City moves forward with developing the site, it will enter into good faith negotiations with those presently living there and their community partners who have allocated or pledged resources to this initiative around the creation of a self managed project at 1510 King Street West.”
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty <>