Sunday, 13 December 2015

No Pride in Gentrification Community Statement

The 519 Community Centre, in partnership with private donors and with the support of the City of Toronto, is pushing to turn Moss Park and John Innes Community Centre into an LGBT-focused Sport and Recreation Centre.

On the surface, the idea of an LGBT-focused sport centre sounds like an important equity initiative that could benefit LGBT people who have been marginalized in sports and recreation. However, the choice of location - at the heart of Toronto’s Downtown East Neighbourhood (DTE) - means that this project will become part of the rapid gentrification of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhood.

According to a City of Toronto staff report, the LGBT-focused Sport and Recreation Centre fits within the larger ‘revitalization’ of George Street and the surrounding neighbourhood. Recently passed by city council, the George Street Revitalization Plan will see the loss of hundreds of  emergency shelter beds as part of the dismantling of Seaton House - the largest men’s shelter in the country - and will push out other programs that poor people in the DTE need. The loss of shelter beds is at a time when homeless shelters across the city are operating beyond capacity and there is an overall lack of sufficient space. For the City, supporting the LGBT-focused Sport and Recreation Centre is the perfect excuse to finally pave over Moss Park and replace John Innes for good.

Supporters of this project see Moss Park and John Innes as empty and unimportant spaces. In a recent article, Matthew Cutler, who at the time was Director of Strategic Partnership Initiatives at The 519 but is now manager of Public Relations and Issue Management at the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department, described Moss Park as a “blank canvas”. John Innes Community Centre and Moss Park are not empty spaces that can be bulldozed to make way for a high-end sport facility. There is an already existing community of poor and homeless people -- including many LGBT people -- who use this space and this project will displace this community. The loss of the community centre and neighbouring park will be devastating for the DTE community.

These are vital spaces in a neighbourhood that is home to poor and marginalized people, including many LGBT people - people that the city wants to push out to make way for more condos, more so-called development and more profit. Sadly, the 519 management seems willing to let the developers co-opt LGBT issues as yet another excuse for driving poor people out of their community spaces.

We believe that sport and recreation are vital to communities, including LGBT people. We support investing in initiatives that will facilitate queer and trans access to programming across the city, including distinct LGBT programming where needed. We do not need a separate LGBT Sport and Recreation Centre dropped in the middle of the DTE, waving a rainbow flag over the destruction of poor communities that include many LGBT people.

We are here to defend our neighbourhoods and communities. Defend them from the City, the developers and to challenge those in the LGBT community who are participating - knowingly or not - in projects that will drive out poor people from the DTE.  We reject the invoking of LGBT rights to try to prevent opposition to the George Street ‘revitalization’ and the rapid gentrification of the DTE.

To add your name as an individual or organization in support of this statement please contact:


Ontario Civil Liberties Association
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Ontario Public Interest Research Group Toronto
Ontario Public Interest Research Group York
Put Food In the Budget Campaign
Queer Ontario
Queer Trans Community Defence
Six Degrees Health
Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union


Mary Louise Adams

Dawna Tracey Armstrong
Maureen Aslin
Graeme Bacques
Beverly Bain

Heather Bain
Xaviier Blake

Aruna Boodram
Karen Boyles, Concordia University
Marque Brill
Deborah Brock, Sociology, York University
Valentina Capurri

Smadar Carmon
Deborah Cowen, Assoc Professor Dep of Geography & Planning UofT
Roxanne Danielson
Sonny Dhoot, PhD Candidate, Women and Gender Studies Institute, UofT.

OmiSoore H. Dryden
Brian Dubourdieu
Sheila L. Cavanagh, Assoc Professor at York University
Kami Chisholm, Artist in Residence Osgoode Law School York University
John Clarke, OCAP Organizer
Mark Connery
Dia Da Costa
Kat Dearham
Dashiel Dwyer
Cara Fabre
Leeanne Farnell
Sue Ferguson
Pat Fifield

Marty Fink
Maureen FitzGerald
Wendy Forrest

Craig Fortier, Assistant Professor Social Development Studies at University of Waterloo
Erica Franklin
Will Gaydos

Iamia Gibson
Sue Goldstein
Rachele Gottardi, OPIRG Toronto Board Member
Amy Gottlieb, Teacher and Artist
Liz Green
Jessica Hales
Mary Jean Hande

Jinthana Haritaworn
David Herzig
Roger Hollander

JP Hornick
Richerd Hudler, Chair, Queer Ontario

Emily Irwin
Nancy Irwin
Prabha Khosla
Kate Klein
Natalie Kouri-Towe
Danielle Koyama
Gary Kinsman
A.W. Lee
Helen Lenskyj
Terah Li. K
Poe Liberado
Jenna MacKay
Jamie Magnusson
Mitchell Mahon
Tim McCaskell
Liz McLean
Jon McPhedran Waitzer
Sofia Mesa

Harmony Montes
Dianne Moore
Nick Mule
Ander Negrazis

Richard Nelder
Sarah Noonan
Emmet O'Reilly
Kelly O'Sullivan, Chair CUPE Ontario Health Care Workers
Dawn Onishenko

Stacey Papernick
Sarah Peek

Carolyn Pitchot
Matthew Popoff
Sarah Prowse
Oliver Roberts
Herman Rosenfeld
Alan Sears

Jordan Silverman
Robin Silverman
Kristen Smith, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, Ryerson University
Tony Souza
Sarah Switzer
Shannon Taylor
Robert Teixeira

Brook Thorndycraft
Nishant Upadhyah
Lise Vaugeois
Rinaldo Walcott
Don Weitz
Anna Willats

Lindsay Williams
John Wilson, Treasurer at Queer Ontario
Mel Willson
AJ Withers
Lesley Wood
Cynthia Wright
Joan Yang

Errol Young

1 comment:

  1. This is terrible, our city erasing n a ignoring the needs of marginalized,homeless and low income people. We already seen genderification of 519 out of the cold program removing non lgbtq2s people from this program and from the area