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London ACORN Carling-Stoneybrook Organizing Drive - ACORN Canada

London ACORN Carling-Stoneybrook Organizing Drive

Posted June 13, 2023

The last two months have been very busy times for London ACORN members living in the Carling-Stoneybrook area. It all started when one of our members from the area spoke up during a chapter meeting to share the severe disrepair and mismanagement tenants were experiencing at 1150 Adelaide – a building owned by Old Oak Properties. Members planned a speakout for tenants at 1150 Adelaide to take place the following week.

As doorknocking began in preparation for this speakout however, it became abundantly clear that the disrepair and mismanagement issues were not limited to 1150 Adelaide alone. All 9 of the Old Oak Properties buildings on Adelaide had tenants with various concerns, including horrific pest infestations, gaping holes in walls from unfinished repairs, constant leaks, electrical issues, weekly (and sometimes daily) water outages, unsafe water, ancient carpets that hadn’t been changed in decades, unreachable management, and so much more. The frustration these tenants felt about their situation became apparent at the tenant speakout on March 23rd, when a whopping twenty four tenants attended the action – double the expected turnout! Read more about the action here!

In the weeks following the Old Oak tenant speakout, tenants were galvanised by the hope for change and word about ACORN quickly spread throughout the buildings. With the rapid growth of ACORN membership and the increasing number of horror stories about neglectful and predatory landlords in the community, a perfect storm had begun… for a new London ACORN chapter!

The organising drive for a new chapter began with lots of doorknocking and preparation for organising committee (OC) meetings, where members could discuss community issues and make plans for the new chapter. The first OC meeting went off without a hitch, with an amazingly productive discussion surrounding local community issues and priorities.

The following week, just days prior to the second OC meeting, tragedy hit – tenants at 1270 and 1280 Webster had received notices that they would be evicted for renovations by the new owner of their buildings, a number company that was soon renamed as “Webster Apts Inc.”. With word spreading to Webster tenants about ACORN’s upcoming meeting at the nearby library, leaders were prepared to have slightly higher turnout than expected. When the day came for the second OC meeting, a whopping fifty two attendees flooded the library!

Thankfully, library staff had heard about the Webster renovictions and immediately offered a larger room to accommodate us so that everyone could be included. The meeting’s focus quickly shifted towards a discussion of priorities for the new chapter, and in a wonderful show of solidarity, ACORN members voted unanimously to prioritize support for Webster tenants and preparations for an action to fight these renovictions! Our new members left the meeting with a sense of hope, and preparations quickly began for a speakout at 1270 and 1280 Webster the following week.

Despite the absurd intimidation tactics from building management, members successfully held a peaceful action at the Webster buildings (read the full story of the speakout here). With the renovictions happening at Webster, and the maintenance and management issues at Old Oak, members decided at the third OC meeting that their local campaign needed to focus on the rampant landlord issues in their community. Members were frustrated that their rights weren’t being protected by their representatives, so they agreed upon three main demands for the city of London: landlord licensing, a renoviction bylaw, and a tenant defense fund (read detailed descriptions of these demands here). Members also finalized plans for a big meeting to launch their new chapter AND a big action to launch their new campaign demands – it was a VERY productive OC meeting!!

For the fourth OC meeting, members worked out the finer details for the big meeting and action. Meanwhile, the Webster tenant speakout and ensuing media frenzy garnered such attention from across the province that the federal leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, organized a press conference with MP Teresa Mathyssen and all local NDP MPPs to talk to Webster tenants about renovictions. These events greatly helped with building momentum in the community for our big launching meeting of the new Carling-Stoneybrook chapter! At the big meeting, elections were successfully held for the Carling-Stoneybrook board: members elected Jordan Smith as Chair, Nawton Chiles as Co-chair, Serena Smith as Secretary, and Anna Ierullo and Christine Dell as Outreach Captains for the community. Check out their bios here! Members also launched their new Tenant Protection Platform at the big meeting, which they planned to present at their big launching action on June 6th!

Finally, the day came for the big action. The action kicked off in Victoria Park with some Old Oak members sharing some of their experiences, followed by speeches from MP Lindsay Mathyssen and MPP Teresa Armstrong in support of tenants’ rights and ACORN’s Tenant Protection Platform. After keeping the plan under wraps for weeks, leaders revealed the secret plan to march to the Old Oak downtown office first, before marching to city hall to announce their Tenant Protection Platform. Our group of nearly fifty members then began the march to Old Oak office, filling the air with chants of “Hey hey, ho, ho, bad landlords have got to go!”

When we arrived at the office, management quickly realized how many people were coming, and tried to slam the door in our faces! We refused to leave however, and they were forced to face our members who had been suffering due to Old Oaks’ negligence! Management agreed to a meeting with tenants and ACORN, and said they would contact us with details shortly. Tenants then presented management with a “2023 Slumlord of the Year” certificate for their “hard work” as landlords. Members then marched to city hall to share more stories of their experiences with predatory landlords, and demanded that the city implement the three policies from the Tenant Protection Platform:

  • Landlord Licensing
  • A Renoviction Bylaw
  • A Tenant Defense Fund

The action closed with an empowering cheer from the group: “THE PEOPLE UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!”

With their new chapter established, Carling-Stoneybrook ACORN members are excited to keep working on these issues and fight to protect their rights!