Time to fix Scarborough

Scarborough MPPs - housing forum

Scarborough MPPs give an ear to residents
at the Scarborough Civic Centre at the fifth annual
Scarborough Community Summit.

Violet Yedon still has a lot of fight left in her.

Armed with her two-wheeled walking aid, the 83-year-old longtime east Scarborough resident made her way through the year’s first major snowfall to be at the civic centre last Thursday where she went on the attack against a mountain of problems in her public housing development.

“It isn’t fair to us to live that way,” said Yedon, to the Observer. “These buildings need fixing and if they don’t fix them as soon as they can, the building may deteriorate more and it won’t be healthy for anyone to live in

Yedon, who lives at 4301 Kingston Rd., says she’s been battling away, “trying to argue points across to people that we do need [the repairs].”

The meeting was the fifth Scarborough Community Summit, hosted by the Scarborough Civic Action Network (Scarborough CAN) and was described as a “consultation process” to make the former municipality stronger.

This summit was touted as a way to engage citizens, share ideas, and have a voice in the community. Yedon was there for the latter.

What, specifically, needs fixing?

“Everything,” said Chris McDonell, one of several other tenants from Yedon’s building, who eventually singled out high crime rates in the area and infestations of cockroaches.

“You’re scared to let anybody come in your apartment, it’s that bad,” the 63-year-old said.

Toronto Community Housing owns Yedon’s building, as well as living accommodations for 164,000, or six per cent, of Toronto’s population. Other activist groups have protested the living conditions in public housing, including the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which has named the corporation as the city’s worst landlord.

Though Mayor David Miller was not on hand to get a tongue lashing from Yedon, a number of provincial politicians — including newly elected MPP Margarett Best — were there to field questions from residents.

“The housing issue is a huge issue, but this government is certainly looking at the different programs and initiatives to address poverty and issues related to housing and all the different issues that affect low income people,” said Best, pointing out initiatives already aimed at helping out poverty-stricken citizens in her riding.

Included is the Ontario Child Benefit and the Youth in Policing Initiative.

“[Housing issues] are all important, but I feel that we have to provide opportunities for the younger people so that they can bring their dreams to fruition.”

Best’s fellow Liberal MPPs, which included Lorenzo Berardinetti, Brad Duguid, and Gerry Phillips, were also on hand to field questions about employment, youth issues, and raising the minimum wage.