[Hpn] 'Pope Squat' sold

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Thu, 11 Sep 2003 20:15:17 -0400


Globe and Mail
Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - Page A13

Developer purchases 'Pope Squat'

By KATHERINE HARDING

Parkdale's so-called "Pope Squat" -- a building that was taken over by
housing and anti-poverty activists last year -- has been sold to a private
developer for $500,000.

"It's going to be turned into a rooming house, but it won't be affordable
housing," said Councillor Chris Korwin-Kuczynski.

The vacant, 24-unit building at 1510 King St. W. -- which is located in Mr.
Korwin-Kuczynski's Parkdale-Highpark ward -- got its nickname when members
of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty occupied it during Pope John Paul's
visit in July, 2002.

OCAP and its supporters, including the Canadian Auto Workers union and the
Elementary Teachers of Toronto, wanted the building to be converted to
tenant-managed housing. They spent most of the occupation cleaning and
repairing the derelict building and its property. Mail was even being
delivered to the address.

The illegal occupation of the four-storey building lasted until last Nov. 1,
when officials deemed the brown brick building a fire hazard. The sudden
eviction led to a brief and noisy skirmish with police, during which three
people were arrested.

After the squatters left, city staff boarded up the building, which had once
been owned by a numbered company that went bankrupt. Private security guards
were hired to watch the property 24 hours a day.

Since November, Mr. Korwin-Kuczynski has written several letters to the
province asking officials to "put an end to the current hold-up and turn the
building over for conversion to affordable housing."

The building's new owner bought it under power-of-sale and is a Parkdale
"neighbour," according to Mr. Korwin-Kuczynski. The unidentified owner is
scheduled to meet today with city officials to talk about the building's
future.

OCAP leader John Clarke called the sale "really quite sad and disgusting."

"We had a community of about 25 people in there . . . it could have worked
but the government spared no expense to make sure it didn't."

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Toronto Star, Sep. 10, 2003

City about to write off province's $52,000 bill

KERRY GILLESPIE, CITY HALL BUREAU

Toronto is set to write off $52,000 in unpaid property taxes and water bills
technically owed by the province on an abandoned Parkdale building dubbed
the Pope Squat.

A city report, which will be available for debate at the policy and finance
committee tomorrow, recommends the bill be deemed "uncollectible."

The abandoned building on King St. W. near Jameson Ave. was dubbed the Pope
Squat when anti-poverty activists with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
occupied it in July, 2002 to draw attention to the city's housing crisis
when Pope John Paul II was in town.

The province obtained the building by default some years ago when the
previous owner, a numbered company, went bankrupt and disappeared. The
building was sold last week.

"It would be nice to be able to get a portion of the revenues of the sale,"
said Sandra Bussin, a councillor on the committee. Said Councillor Pam
McConnell: "There is nothing we can do but pull our hair out."

The reason five years of tax and water bills will likely go uncollected is
due to a complex web of taxation and legislation rules covering
inter-governmental obligations.

Simply put, the province is not required to pay taxes on a property it
obtained through a default, said Cindy Bromley, the city's finance
spokesperson.

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