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(en) Canada, May Day Focuses On Housing In Peterborough, Ontario

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 5 May 2003 12:48:19 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

On May Day, the Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty (PCAP) and
the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) joined together for the
kick-off of a local direct-action campaign for affordable housing in
Peterborough, Ontario.
Over four months, PCAP will publicly visit abandoned buildings
throughout the city which could be opened up for housing. One of these
will be squatted. A few dozen people (including members of the Ontario
Coalition Against Poverty, based in Toronto) gathered on an overcast day
in Confederation Park in downtown Peterborough. Speakers discussed
housing issues, May Day and the labour movement, along with the agenda
for private control of public space led by the downtown business

Leaving the park, we marched onto the street, past the police station on
the way to our destination, an extensive mansion; empty for two years
after being sold by a centralizing university for which it formerly
served as residences, classrooms and offices, to a private owner. While
admitting that the building could easily serve as low cost housing, the
owner is on the public record for stating, "It is too beautiful a home
to convert into affordable apartments". A mindset which ensures that
housing will not be a priority of the State, let alone private business,
unless it is forced onto the table. After reading our banners, drivers
honked at us as they drove past us in a lane of the three lane one-way
road we kept partially open.

Reaching the house, PCAP, OCAP and IWW members spoke while a PCAP member
bravely scaled a wall and unfolded a large PCAP banner off of the
building's second floor balcony. A couple of interested neighbours came
over and we discovered that several doors were open, allowing us to tour
the expansive structure. Not intending to squat the building despite its
excellent condition, we later headed out, to regroup at a music event
that night featuring folk, funk and punk acts.

Amazingly we experienced no police interference, our main opposition
coming from social agencies, represented by the muncipal housing
chairman, who denounced 'breaking into private property' the next day,
"I don't agree with their actions. There are lots of groups out there
working hard to offer housing." Actions like this one, demonstrate the
importance of PCAP and similar groups in providing a way for youth,
unemployed and low income workers to speak for themselves and force
change on a system which ignores or suppresses them.

The Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty is a member of the Ontario
Common Front. For more info visit http://www.ocap.ca
See also:

by Paul Bocking, member of the Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty
and the Industrial Workers of the World


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