New mini-doc brings Parkdale rent strike to screen
Organizer hopes film can be used as a reference for other working-class people
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A self-described "radical" Toronto film company has produced a mini-documentary on the Parkdale rent strike.
Cole Webber, a member of the Parkdale: Organize! group that led the successful strike, said locals were “spellbound” to see their struggle on screen. The strike ran from May to August and included an estimated 200 to 300 tenants across 12 buildings.
“Our hope is that it can be seen as a reference point for other working-class people,” Webber said of the film by subMedia. “I think we’re seeing a shift socially and politically in the neighbourhood.”
After landlord MetCap Living tried to impose above-guideline rent hikes onto what tenants said were poorly maintained buildings, locals came together under the Parkdale: Organize! banner to withhold rent and have a series of rallies.
A confidentiality deal means few details are known about MetCap's concessions, but Webber said that when the dust settled in August “substantial reductions” had been achieved on rent increases, among other things.
Jason Brock of subMedia, himself an organizer in the Hamilton area, said he had watched the Parkdale situation simmer since February and made sure to stick around with his camera.
“It was very apparent early on that this was a struggle that had legs, and it needed to be documented,” he said, adding that he hopes the film will spread via word of mouth to similarly affected neighbourhoods.
Webber said a Parkdale premiere has already been held and a Hamilton show has been hosted by a tenant group there.
“The strike served as a powerful example, in that as long as you organize effectively, there’s no limit to what you can achieve,” he said.
The 35-minute film, This is Parkdale, is posted on sub.media's website.