Monday, June 23, 2008

The Ontario Coaltion Against Poverty (OCAP) continues to hold onto their occupation of the Allen's Gardens site i n downtown Toronto despite attacks by the police. Here is their latest statement of the action.
Today we went to City Hall to demand that Mayor David Miller immediately restore shelter beds in the downtown east side. We've lost over 350 shelter beds in the downtown core, and tens of thousands of meals over the past year, and the City has done nothing.
"They closed University Settlement for renovations today, so where am I supposed to sleep now?" asks Chris. "I'm sleeping in parks, under bridges.They got empty rooms here in City Hall tho, maybe we should stay here?" On our way in to City Hall, security and 52 division cops arrested Gaetan Heroux— in a pathetic attempt to quash the protest, but we continued into Miller's office demanding to speak to the Mayor [Gaetan was released from 52 division two hours later]. Instead we got the dregs of Miller's PR department, someone with zero decision-making (or even scheduling)authority, nor anything interesting to say, so we went to Council Chambers to confront Miller and Council directly.
"Last February when a man died on the streets, you told us you would address this crisis," Danielle Koyama told the remaining sheepish city councillors. "You patted yourselves on the back for replacing 60 of the 350 shelter beds lost. Well now we've lost another 65, so thanks for nothing!"
By the time we got there, Miller had already left council. We can only assume he is too afraid to see the consequences of his shameful policies. However, we stayed and told City Council what is actually going on in our city and demanding more food, shelter and less harassment. Within a few minutes, they called council into recess and cleared the room.
Today's action was the culmination of a weekend of protest at Allan Gardens, taken over this past weekend by OCAP and allies, despite the city's attempts to clear us out. Over the weekend 4 meals were served to hundreds of people from the streets, Allan Gardens was taken over and successfully held, and the city was called on their complete failure to address the homeless crisis in this city. OCAP will continue to bring this fight to the city until shelter beds get replaced, the police stop ticketing and harassing people on the streets, and decent, affordable,accessible social housing is expanded to meet demand!
**Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St.
Toronto, ON
M5A 1R6

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