June 6, 2013 5:13 pm
Updated: June 6, 2013 5:40 pm

Protesting squatters evicted from vacant lot in Montreal


MONTREAL – Several dozen squatters that took over a vacant lot in St. Henri have been evicted.

The protesters were occupying the lot to protest how gentrification and condo development are affecting the local community.

Squatting essentially means to occupy abandoned land or property without lawful permission. It’s a form of protest that has been used in Canada and around the world to raise awareness about land issues.

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In pictures: A history of squatting protests across Canada

The Montreal squatters are concerned about condo development in the area, which may drive out families that can no longer afford to stay.

“Poor people in Montreal are fed up.”

As the tents came down and the couches were moved off the lot, an activist for social housing spoke to the media.

Gallery: St. Henri squatters evicted as police prepare for clash

“Poor people in Montreal are fed up,” said community organizer Fred Burrill. “We need at least 55,000 units in Quebec over the next five years to make the slightest of difference to the overwhelming need.”

Watch: Activist Fred Burrill explains why the protest took place

“This is only the start of many actions. There is a strong movement in Montreal against the gentrification of the city. The city belongs to all of us . . . it doesn’t belong to condo developers, to elected officals or to bureaucrats. It belongs to us.”

The owner of the vacant lot, local businessman Peter Sergakis, told Global News that he has asked police on Wednesday to intervene and evict the protesters.

Watch: Businessman and landlord Peter Sergakis shares why he’s asked police to intervene and evict the squatters

He said he was prompted to contact police after local residents called to complain.

“I let them pass the message,” he said. “We’re in a democratic country, but I think enough is enough.”

© 2013 Shaw Media

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