This should be invisible

Parkdale Rent Strike

Residents of a Toronto apartment building are refusing to pay their rent

A growing dearth of affordable housing in Parkdale is the subject of debate once again this week as more than 50 residents of a King West highrise refuse to pay their rent.

The tenants at 1251 King Street West have staged a rent strike for February after learning that their landlord, Nuspor Investments, would be hiking prices by 3.4 per cent– nearly double Ontario's 1.8 per cent guideline for 2018.

With the support of Parkdale Community Legal Services and the advocacy group Parkdale Organize, residents say they're standing up against what they see as a plot to push out lower-income tenants.

"In the summer of 2017, more than 300 Parkdale tenants in MetCap buildings went on strike against AGI's (Above Guideline Increases) and won," reads a resident info sheet from Parkdale Organize

"In the same way, the tenants at 1251 King can force Nuspor to withdraw its applications for the AGIs at their buildings," the note continues. "History shows us its the social and political struggles of working class people that bring about change in society."

And residents of the building are far from alone in fighting for the cause.

Teachers at the nearby Queen Victoria Public School in Parkdale protested in support of rent strikers at 1251 King on Thursday morning to support the parents of students and, earlier today, dozens of community members showed their support at a Landlord and Tenant Board meeting.

"Support your neighbours on rent strike!" reads an event invite for the rally. "Nuspor refuses to do repairs in units and has tried to intimidate tenants for organizing with their neighbours. It's time for Parkdale to stand up to Nuspor."

Indeed, it's not only the rent increase that residents are upset about – they're also protesting Nuspor over how it treats existing tenants.

A lack of heat, and general maintenance issues are ongoing headaches for long-time tenants, said Cole Webber with Parkdale Community Legal Services to CBC.

And yet, residents say that when a tenant moves out, Nusport completely remodels their old suites into open-concept condos with brand new kitchens and bathrooms.

The company also recently renovated the building's lobby at a cost of $296,935 – and yet, maintenance requests are said to go unanswered.

Members of the community have been concerned for years that gentrification will drive up home and rental prices in the area, which is slated to get a massive new condo development at Dufferin and King.

Parkdale Organize is optimistic that the rent strikers will emerge victorious from this particular battle.

"The rent strikers have strength in numbers and their neighbours in Parkdale's support," reads the group's Facebook page. "People across Canada are looking at the struggles being waged by tenants in Parkdale for hope and inspiration."

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil

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