Some 50 members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) marched from Rosedale Station to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation's Yonge Street offices last Wednesday (August 1) armed with a dossier of complaints from tenants about shoddy conditions in TCHC-run buildings, only to find the doors closed and cops at the ready.
OCAP spokesperson John Clarke
says the anti-poverty group was notified by TCHC by mail that OCAP would be allowed to attend the meeting of the board of directors but not to make a submission.
When OCAP showed up, they found that the board had already completed the public portion of the meeting and gone in-camera, leaving OCAP members stranded in the lobby. Clarke says the board "rushed through" before OCAP got there.
However, TCHC CEO Derek Ballantyne
says the group arrived about two hours late for the 9:30 am meeting, and that OCAP wasn't allowed to make a deputation to the board regarding residents' complaints because the issue wasn't on the agenda.
Ballantyne blames the provincial and federal governments for the general state of disrepair of TCHC buildings. The corporation plans to spend $100 million on repairs next year, but says it needs three times that amount.
"Tenants recognize that it's not issues of daily maintenance or the quality of maintenance we're delivering. It's just that these buildings are very old and that there are insufficient funds at this point."
OCAP says the city shouldn't abandon tenants while waiting for more funding from other levels of government.
Clarke was able to hand letters containing tenants' complaints to a member of TCHC's corporate planning staff; they'll be responded to in a couple of weeks, says Ballantyne.
As for the presence of five police officers from 53 Division, Staff Sergeant Tony Riviere says it was to ensure that vehicle and pedestrian traffic wasn't impeded during OCAP's jaunt to TCHC.