June 11, 2002
Faced with opening its doors to the homeless of Toronto or continuing to remain a war training camp, the officials in charge of Toronto's Moss Park Armoury have made a choice which is loud and clear: bombs, not homes.
The dozen individuals from Hiomes not Bombs arriving for the second of their ongoing Tuesday evening vigils at the armoury entrance were intrigued by a new sign on the barbed wire fence which surrounds the property. "Security Zone in Effect," reads the hastily prepared document strung to the fence, with the proviso that "only authorized Canadian Forces personnel may enter."
When we asked one of the reservists why this was happening, he explained, "It's because of you guys."
"You're kidding," we said.
"I'm not," he replied sternly, returning to join two other soldiers guarding the entranceway.
Apparently stung by the "breach of security" which occurred last week, when a half dozen folks were able to enter the armoury and conduct an impromptu teach-in for some teenaged recruits on poverty and its connection to Canada's war economy , the military was taking no chances.
"We find it sad that three weeks after Toronto City Council called for the opening of Fort York Armoury, or some similar facility, to act as an emergency shelter for the homeless, the response is to declare Moss Park off-limits to anyone who might suggest a peaceful, community-building alternative for this facility," said a member of Homes not Bombs.
"Worse still, on a night when violent rainstorms are forecast, hundreds of homeless people who could have the Moss Park roof over their heads must instead face the harsh elements."
Members of Homes not Bombs spoke with dozens of homeless people who walked by the vigil site, many agreeing with the idea that the armoury be turned not just into temporary emergency shelter, but into permanent housing that is affordable for folks on low incomes.
It seems the new campaign is already getting under the skin of the military, which seems to have issued orders not to fraternize with the members of the vigil group. Visibly agitated troops entering the facility sped by leafletters, some hurling verbal abuse, others shaking their heads, and in sharp contrast to last week's vigil, none stopped to speak with us.
The notice about the security zone invited anyone with concerns or questions to contact the individuals listed at the end of this article. If you're concerned that the Canadian military feels so threatened by calls to turn an armoury into housing for the homeless that it must declare that facility a security zone, that you should contact these folks.
Mr. MacCallum, c/o Lt. Commander Richards, (613) 995-8676
Major Allison, Press requests, (416) 633-6200 ext. 5500 (since this is a Toronto number, why not call Major Allison and save the dime, eh?
In the meantime, we are continuing our letter writing efforts to ensure federal politicians have Moss Park declared surplus, have the building turned over to the city of Toronto, and then to groups who will provide the kind of housing that will truly make a difference in the lives of those forced to live on the margins of this cruel economy. To get more info on how you can help out with this part of the equation, drop us a line at email@example.com
Please join us on upcoming Tuesdays, 7-8:30 pm, and don't forget the walk from Fort York Armoury to Moss Park Armoury, Monday, July 1, 12 noon.
For more info. call (416) 651-5800.
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