|Canada, Toronto, Pope Squat Update, Wednesday. August 7th, 2002.|
On Tuesday August 6th, Squatters from the "Pope Squat" at 1510 King Street West, The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and many allies made a strong showing of the wide support that the ongoing housing occupation enjoys.
Over 100 people rallied at city hall for an update on the situation around the squat and a delegation of squatters and allies, including trade union leaders, was prepared to meet with city councilors and officials and open the negotiation process to convert 1510 King St. W. into self-managed social housing.
However, one councilor that the delegation wanted to secure a meeting with, local councilor Chris Korwin-Kuczynski, was not in his office.
As a meeting at city hall was not forthcoming on this day the demonstration marched to the Provincial Land Registry office at Bay St. and Wellesley.
Police and security immediately blocked the main entrance to the building but were unable to stop the resourceful and determined crowd. Some squatters and activists gained entrance to the building through other doors before being blocked by security and police right at the inside office responsible for the title of 1510 King West.
The Province is currently a major obstacle on the road to converting 1510 King St W. into self-managed social housing. The Province has every legal right to acknowledge ownership of the property and transfer it to the city, or the squatters, for conversion into self-managed social housing.
There will be a press conference at the Queens Park media room today (Wednesday, August 7th) at 11am. NDP Housing Critic Michael Prue; John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York District Labour Council; Steve Watson, National Representative of the Canadian Auto Workers Union; Street Nurse Cathy Crowe; and Squatters will speak to the desperate need for provincial action to cut through the red tape and turn 1510 King St. West into self-managed social housing.
OCAP and squatters will continue to pressure both the municipal and provincial levels of government and pay visits to the appropriate offices. Stay alert for emergency calls to action.
Another exciting development at the squat was the decision to name the long-term, self-managed, social housing project after Norman Feltes as a memorial. Norm was a long-time OCAP member whose fight ended on June 15th, 2000. Both his warmth towards us who had the honor of knowing him and his tenacity towards those we struggled against live on at 1510 King St. West.
Norm's son Nick, who happens to be experienced in converting and renovating social housing, was at the squat Tuesday going through the building and making assessments and made the suggestion of naming the building after his father. Nick also re-told the well known story of Norm's final request being that Nick attend the OCAP demonstration at Queens Park on June 15th, 2000 in his place. Nick proudly did so and the solidarity of the Feltes continues with his assistance at the Pope Squat.
As it stands, the squatters and OCAP are maintaining our position that:
1) The province has not yet claimed ownership of 1510 King St W. In order to avoid bureaucratic foot-dragging we will not leave 1510 King St. W. until it is determined that the Province of Ontario or the City of Toronto hold title of the property.
2) There are individuals living at 1510 King St. W. who are homeless and have nowhere else to go. OCAP will not walk away from these individuals and leave them in the street.
3) While it is a sad state of affairs when it takes a local organization like OCAP and homeless people to physically open an empty building to get the City of Toronto to act-- they have finally but reluctantly done the right thing by stating their intention to convert the building into affordable housing. However, there are many empty buildings throughout Toronto similar to 1510 King St. W. If the City fails to act on these as well, OCAP most certainly will.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
"Kicking the ass of the ruling class since 1990"
517 College St. Suite 234
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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