multiplex housing toronto

Toronto man gets dunked on for saying 'socialist' renters make cities dirty

A Toronto resident who claims to care about his neighbours while, in the same breath, characterizing renters as undesirables, is being thoroughly dunked on by social media commenters.

The man was a call-in speaker during a turbulent Monday meeting on the proposed legalization of multiplexes in the housing-starved city, a way to improve housing stock without vast changes to the built form of lower-density neighbourhoods.

But multiplex housing could mean more renters, an idea one Toronto homeowner thinks is…"socialist?"

"You're proposing to allow the city to become a city of renters, and I've seen cities of renters, and it's ugly," said the man during a passionate, if not somewhat unhinged, phone-in rant on the debate of multiplex housing.

"It's unkempt, it's noisy, strangers, schools, issues. The whole thing sounds to me as if it is absurd. It sounds like a socialist kind of idea," says the man, who may or may not fully understand the meaning of the word socialist.

As one could imagine, reaction to the clip has involved plenty of finger-wagging as commenters dunk on the renters-are-bad sentiment.

"I am not a name caller. If I sound like a NIMBY, too bad, because I care about me, my neighbours, my friends and my cities," stated the textbook definition of the term NIMBY as he argued against more housing in his proverbial backyard.

"Single-family homes are going to be doomed, and when that happens, part of the spine of a city becomes doomed," argues the caller. "I wonder how we're going to live in this new city. It's going to be crowded, noisy, perhaps unsafe."

"I have seen a city of renters, and it's terrible," says the apparent expert on urban issues, who proceeds to complain about the lack of parking in big cities three separate times in the next 60 seconds as if it's a centre-stage issue in Toronto. 

The caller’s comments have been characterized as classist, anti-renter, and anti-social housing by some voices on Twitter. Others are just happy to see the guy get ratioed.

By the end of the call, even the call hosts appeared to be over it. Melanie Melnyk, Project Manager of Strategic Initiatives at the City of Toronto, sounded somewhat frustrated when she straight up cut the speaker off, saying, "I think now we got the gist of your comment, thank you."

Colleen Bailey, a representative of More Neighbours TO, who recorded the video and attended the meeting last night, tells blogTO that "we see classist and alarmist language in many meetings about development, but it's not always this blunt."

She says that, in most cases, this type of stance comes in the form of "dog whistles or implications that homeowners have more of a right to speak, but it's sadly common for comments about character and beauty to veer into comments about renters, students or 'transient lifestyles.'"

Bailey explains that "More Neighbours has been working to get more diverse voices out to meetings, but I know as a renter myself how discouraging comments like this are."

"It's frustrating to attend so many public consultations where prejudice against renters is often a proxy for prejudices against racialized and low-income Torontonians."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim


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