The buzz has become impossible to escape. Business associations speak of “renewal”, while expensive restaurants celebrate “revitalization” and local politicians promote “redevelopment” as the city gives large grants to Toronto entrepreneurs to set up shop in town. This is all accompanied by a media blitz presenting Hamilton as a land of opportunity for the rich. With every passing day the meaning of these words becomes painfully obvious – in practice they really just mean increased misery, hardship, and displacement. Real estate agents, property management firms, investors, and business owners amongst others, reap huge profits as many of us who have called Hamilton home struggle to get by in the changing city. This is a fundamental reality of capitalism and is not surprising. What is surprising, is that those who celebrate and profit off gentrification continue to do so openly without regularly feeling the anger of those who their narrow self-interest harms.
This summer, we took a few small actions to remind the profiteers and boosters of gentrification that their presence in our neighbourhoods is unwelcome. Between June and August 2017, we carried out a series of simple attacks against businesses and entities that seek that seek to attract rich people and investors, encouraging the kinds of rapid rent increases that have already displaced thousands of people.