Winning the impossible at the Pantages demolition site
By Ivan Drury
City Hall has finally issued an order to Pantages owner Marc Williams to force him to clean up the site. The order says that Sequel 138 Development Corp must “remove the accumulation of construction debris, rubbish and discarded material on or before July 31, 2012.” It threatens legal action for “failure to comply with this order” including a threat that the city will undertake the clean-up work if the owner does not. The cost of a city-clean-up of the site, the order says, will likely be around $250,000.
This clean-up order didn’t come from nothing. The low-income community has been organizing actions to make the Pantages demolition site safe and healthy for over a year. Most recently the order was issued the day after members of the DTES low-income community and neighbours of the Pantages site held a second news conference in as many months demanding the city get rid of the rats and rubble.
For Herb Varley, Co-President of the DTES Neighbourhood Council, the victory over city-apathy in cleaning up the lot is proof that more wins are possible. He said, “This is a victory for us because our struggle made the city do what they said was impossible. People who live here have been suffering for their inaction. Now that we made it a very public issue that is embarrassing to City Hall, now they can clean up the site? Now we’re supposed to buy their story that they can’t buy the property? We’re going to step up our fight for social housing at the Pantages and make that impossible thing happen next.”
The DTES Not for Developers Coalition has organized most of the actions to for health and safety and against the planned condo building at the Pantages site. The Coalition will continue to fight to get the city and province to build 100% social housing for low-income residents instead of condos for higher income people. To get involved, come to the coalition meetings every Wednesday at 11am in the Carnegie Centre, 3rd floor.