Monday, December 03, 2007

The Future of Lawrence Heights: “Revitalization” or Gentrification?

For some time now, TCHC residents have been told that they can expect better housing through “revitalization”. But many fear that this will mean displacement of the community, as was the case in Regent Park.

In the mean time, TCHC is failing to carry out everyday repairs to its units. And while the City continues to try to TAKE from the community, like when they tried to shut down the community centre on Mondays, now TCHC wants to increase parking rates across the community.

But the people are organizing and fighting back!

TCHC is being sued for almost $500,000,000 on behalf of TCHC residents across Toronto; people protested against the community centre closedowns back in September; TCHC residents have protested loudly against any increase in the parking charges; and people are beginning to organize against “revitalization”.

Come to the following event to hear the people and organizations fighting back against TCHC:
-N. Zahra, Basics Community Newspaper
-John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
-Sarah Shartel, the lawyer handling the case against TCHC
...and speakers from Regent Park and Lawrence Heights to speak on their own experiences

Sunday, December 9, 6 - 8 pm
Lawrence Heights Community Centre


TCHC trying to charge tenants with detached homes and visitors for parking

On Thursday October 25th, 2007 TCHC held a ‘consultation’ to discuss plans to charge tenants with detached homes with driveways monthly parking fees. Also on the table was the plan to charge overnight visitors $5 per night for parking. This so-called ‘consulation’ ended up being a sham with TCHC already decided on how they could steal yet more money from working people.

Residents came ready with legitimate questions and concerns about an initiative that they rightly saw as harmful and unfair. Among the major issues raised was the fact that the driveways of TCHC detached houses aremaintained by the tenants and not by TCHC. Concerned residents asked why they should have to pay for a space that they work so hard to maintain with no help from their slumlord. Also at issue was the increase in unfair ticketing of visitors. Many residents who have been ticketed unfairly multiple times were dismissed by the TCHC manager who claimed that they were lying. Along similar lines, some of the longest-standing residents complained about having to pay the new parking fees despite having parking included in their leases when they signed them over twenty years ago.

All of these concerns and more were repeatedly dismissed by the TCHC manager. Also in attendance was city councillor Howard Moscoe who was also dismissive of residents’ concerns. The atitudes of the TCHC manager and Moscoe were shameful in the face of such valid concerns. The residents recognized that the ‘consultation’ was indeed a sham very quickly and saw through both of them, knowing full well that neither had the community’s best interests in mind.

Through their persistent questioning of the TCHC parking policy, the residents successfully managed to get TCHC to back down from immediate implementation of the policy. The manager agreed to suspend parking enforcement until December 31st, 2007 while a committee of 7 people came up with a revised proposal. Realizing that this was only done to appease the residents and that 7 people chosen by TCHC could not possibly represent the interests of the community, a number of residents decided to come together to organize against city-backed TCHC attempts to destroy Lawrence Heights by making peoples’ lives harder. They rightly identified this latest TCHC scheme as part of the larger project of the destruction of the working-class community of Lawrence Heights through the so-called ‘revitaliztion.’

Since this first meeting, TCHC held another ‘consultation’ that took place on Wedensday November 21, 2008. There was no sign of the 7 member committee that they promised to convene. Instead, because of community pressure, they unitlaterally decided to not charge tenants with detached homes with driveways but insisted that visitors had to pay for overnight parking. This unilateral decision is still seen as unnacceptable to the community.

Residents have since come together to draft a petition refusing to accept TCHC’s proposed parking plan, instead suggesting that parking fees be lowered to $30 for everyone and that residents have unlimited visitor parking passes. In addition the petition calls for 0% displacement through ‘revitalization’ and that TCHC stop breaking the law and carry out all outstanding repairs.

Join these courageous residents in their refusal to see the community of Lawrence Heights destroyed!