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Tarred with the same brush

Mike Fleury assesses the damage.

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Last weekend, residents in the north end were treated to a fresh wave of unfriendly graffiti, all following an anti-gentrification theme. “You can visit anytime but you’re not invited to live here,” read one message, spray-painted on the side of a house on Bauer Street. “Can’t afford this,” read another, left on the side of an SUV. Another inventive and thoughtful tag left it at simply, “Leave now.”

In reporting the incident, several media outlets made reference to the recent Carnival of Resistance, a one-day event organized by the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty, which took place on Saturday, August 19. Speaking on behalf of the Coalition, Angela Weal, an HCAP member, says that although the Carnival did focus on gentrification issues, the Coalition doesn’t advocate vandalism as a means of response.

“The whole idea of that Carnival and our walking tour was to educate people about what gentrification is and give people a visual about how it is happening in the area,” she says. “Spray-painting the sides of buildings with nasty comments is juvenile and to be honest, beneath us. We believe in direct action, but direct action to get results. Not to hurt people. That’s just pathetic, what happened.”

Weal, who lives roughly three blocks from where some of the vandalism took place, says that the Coalition doesn’t know who might be responsible for the graffiti, and that its focus on the coming year will be on other issues such as introducing rent control and pushing for revisions to the provincial Rent Review Act—not on vandalism.

“Whoever did this is acting on their own,” she says, “but somehow or another, we’re getting linked in here. And I don’t like that.”

Box cutting

So, you’ve picked up a copy of The Coast. Good for you! My, what good taste you have. Obviously, you’re interested in the world around you, and for that, you deserve be commended. We salute you, Mr. or Ms. Well-Informed Citizen.

Now, not to pry, but where did you happen to get your copy of this fine publication? Was it from a sidewalk box? There’s a good chance of that—we’ve got a lot of sidewalk boxes sprinkled around this city—just like the Daily News, the Chronicle-Herald, the Globe and Mail and others…

Far be it from us to report on our own petty little concerns, but given that you’re such a well-read and world-curious individual, we thought this might interest you as well: This Tuesday, city council will be considering the adoption of bylaw C-500—or, by its slightly less robotic title, “Respecting Commerce and Vending on Municipal Lands.” The bylaw would regulate—among other things—the placement of newspaper boxes in Halifax.

Currently, newspaper boxes aren’t closely scrutinized by the HRM—once paid for, they can be placed almost anywhere on municipal land. The new box bylaw would limit the number of newspaper boxes in the city, only allow boxes on certain city-approved sites, and limit the number of boxes per site—four different newspapers on any given site, and that’s it.

Do we here at The Coast have a particular interest in this bylaw? You betcha, and for obvious reasons. But if you regularly pick up a paper from a sidewalk box, you probably do, too. Comments, questions or concerns about the bylaw can be sent to the Municipal Clerk’s office clerks@halifax.ca by 3:00pm on Tuesday. Readers, get writing.

Bullet: Got news news? Send it to: mike@thecoast.ca

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