Centretown is a great place to live. The social, ethnic, sexual, economic and aesthetic diversity of the neighbourhood is what gives it its vibrancy and life. If David Wex and his Toronto-based Urban Capital were allowed to continue, all of that would end. For a community like Centretown, the gentrification that would come about as a result of Urban Capital’s projects would be devastating. Rents will rise. Public space will turn private. Independent and affordable stores turn into Starbucks and Shoppers Drug Marts. Social services that provide necessary services to persons of lower income would be pressured to relocate to “less visible” areas. These effects are well documented in all of Canada’s urban centres. This is not acceptable to me, this is not the kind of community my neighbours and I want, and shouldn’t be to anyone who has a modicum of compassion, empathy and self preservation.
More than a quarter of the folks living in Centretown live in the low-income bracket: that’s 12 percent higher than the Ottawa average. A monstrosity of the Urban Capital sort would demolish the liveability of that quarter, or 7,000 people. The low-income rate in this neighbourhood is 24 percent higher than it was in 2001, a rise that is, in part, because of the arrival of people who were no longer able to afford living in gentrified communities like Westboro, Hintonburg and the Glebe. And now, they’re going to be met with having to move yet again? No. Not going to happen.
Toronto-based Urban Capital insists that the lots where they plan on building their unaesthetic monstrosities are vacant. That is a complete fiction. There are homes and businesses on those very lots that will be demolished, many of which are heritage buildings. If we allow the Kingdom of Wex to demolish buildings like the historic Metropolitan Bible Church (formerly the Metropolitan Tabernacle, built in 1934) or the Davidson Hearing Centre (built in 1912), what’s next? Do we care so little about the heritage and history of our community? Do we want a community of homogeneous buildings that look like IKEAized versions of a game of Tetris gone wrong?
So again, why did I shower David Wex in glitter? Because he’s going to get my 94-year-old grandmother on social security evicted. Or my neighbour, a single mom who works tirelessly to give her awesome kid a stable and fun home. Or Steve, the self-described soggy-astronaut drug user, who comes over and sits on my porch and has a beer with me after work. I care about these people and I can’t fathom why more people don’t. These are the marginalized in my community and, as their neighbour, I’m not going to let some big money Toronto asshole kick them out of the homes they’ve lived in for decades, just so he can make a buck.
I love this part of the city and I will defend its uniqueness. If these developers persist in their invasion of our community and city, be assured that this is not the last you’ve seen of Glitter Man and our “co-owned” megaphone, for with great sparkle comes great responsibility.
The Glitter Man