Nova Scotia ACORN

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Halifax Media Co-op: ACORN Canada Aims to Tackle Dartmouth Slums

Be thankful you don't have to breathe it: Black mold everywhere. [Photo: Miles Howe]Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – Jessica Bastarache greets Evan Coole, organizer for ACORN Canada, at the back door of a Jackson Road low-rise in Dartmouth. There's no lock on the door of the building, and as we descend the stairs towards the basement level, signs of destruction and disrepair are everywhere.

Gaping holes have been punched and kicked in the drywall, pieces of which are ground into the hallway carpet. People have been playing tic-tac-toe on the walls with indelible markers. There are no fire extinguishers, some parts of the hallway are not lit, and exposed wires hang from the ceiling. The air is humid and stale, thick with moisture and mold.

“There's some splatter of something,” says Jessica, pointing to a sticky smear dripping down the hallway wall. “God only knows what that is.”

We crunch our way through the dimly lit hallway and stop at the apartment adjacent to Bastarache's. The lock on the door is broken, and the apartment is vacant. The smell from outside the door is one that suggests an absence of breathable oxygen, and we all reflexively recoil a half-step.

“This one here is the bad apartment. I don't know if you want to go in here,” says Bastarache as she opens the door.

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