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Teachers, students to join Parkdale rent strikers

Last Updated Jun 2, 2017 at 11:40 pm EDT

Parkdale residents protesting rent increases at five buildings are getting support from some unlikely allies.

Teachers and students from Queen Victoria Public School say they plan to show their support by joining the rent strikers for three days at the corner of King and Jameson starting Monday morning.

Ashleigh Engle, a TDSB teacher who lives in Parkdale, says the issue of rent hikes has been a hot topic of discussion at the school and not just among the adults.

“It’s important for kids to know if they show up at school and can’t focus because they’re afraid they’re going to lose their home the next month that they can talk to their teacher about that,” said Engle.

The Parkdale elementary school is surrounded by 19 buildings owned by Metcap, five of which are facing rent increases above the provincial maximum.

For the last month, more than 200 tenants have been witholding their rent to protest the increases, many of them low income families who say the increases will force them out of one of the last affordable neighbourhoods in Toronto.

“It’s devastating when you work with young kids and they have to be afraid of where they’re going to live next month,” said Engle.

Outside the elementary school, news of the teacher’s plan to join the picketers was met with praise from some parents.

“I think it’s a good show of solidarity,” said one parent.

Engle said she hopes their actions can help show students they are not alone in this fight.

“I think its really inspring to see these teachers understnd that teaching doesn’t end with a textbook, it’s about these kids lives.”