development is booming inshantytown, and with media attention focused on the Cherry Street location, companies are competing for top spot on the benevolence scale.Late last year Bond Head's DuraKit donated a prefab home to the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC). Since then, two more donors have jumped into the mix.
Just before Christmas, UniFold, a Hamilton-based company, donated two collapsible sheds for use at the site. Made of corrugated plastic, they're being used for storage by a few of the approximately 20 people living there.
Around the same time they appeared, two more prefab homes popped up thanks to Buttcon, a construction firm based in Rexdale. They purchased the units from DuraKit and passed them on to TDRC.
Eighteen-year-old John Barkhouse and two friends moved into one of them as soon as it arrived. A small propane heater keeps the trio warm inside their 8-by-12-foot abode.
"They're supposed to be airtight, but there's definitely a few drafts," he says. "Still, it's 100-per-cent better than living in a damn tent."
Shantytown residents say donations have increased since the media focused on the site late last year, but they don't know if they'll be able to stay put.
Home Depot, which owns the land, is being pressured by the Ministry of the Environment to get people off the site because it's contaminated by industrial waste. But city councillor Jack Layton has bought the residents an extra month. Layton says he's looking for a spot along the waterfront where more prefab homes can be set up.
"I'm very optimistic," he says. "There's so much free land there, literally hundreds of acres. If we can't find a few square feet to help people get out of the kind of cold we've been having, then I think it's a statement of failure for our city."