About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Trees Saved (for a change)

Paradoxically, as the City was fighting to mow down some trees in the HCBP, it was fighting to keep them up in the area around Goldie Mill. Here's the City's press release:

A revised plan for the parking lot at the Guelph Youth Music Centre and the Goldie Mill Park will allow for the majority of the mature trees to remain.

City staff presented this modified plan at a meeting last night at the Guelph Youth Music Centre. Changes to the plan were made in response to comments received from residents and input from a public meeting on August 5.

The City also committed to working with a focus group of residents and stakeholders to produce a final plan for the parking lot that meets the needs of the community and Guelph Youth Music Centre.

The City will implement measures to minimize construction impacts on the trees adjacent to the parking lot. The City is also committed to replacing any transplanted trees that do not survive, and planting new trees adjacent to the parking lot.

Other changes include reducing the number of proposed parking spaces, and minimizing the brightness and limiting the extent of the lighted areas, including removing one of the proposed light poles. To address concerns about storm water runoff, an oil grit separator will be included in the storm water system, providing additional treatment for water runoff from the parking lot before it enters the Speed River.

Not to say that I'm not pleased about this development, but it seems bizarre to me how the same city hall that fights so hard for environmental protection in the core, let's sprawl run rampant along the edges of town.

End of a (Short-Lived) Era

Yesterday, the protesters at the HCBP site packed up their trash and headed home as per the court injunction. But these time there was no threat of police involvement, this was the natural end of the protest thanks to the earlier reported injunction issues the same day that said the City can't do any building on the land for 30 days.

Here's a reflective post written on the HCBP blog yesterday:

This morning we packed up camp and, with mixed feelings, left the beautiful place that had been our home for the last 19 days. It has been a really amazing experience for us. Much digesting, debriefing, and continue scheming awaits. Again, we offer such huge thanks to everyone who has participated and helped out in any way. Really, there are no words.

Today was a hot day, and after camp was taken down, a few of us had a special dip in the creek, saying our goodbyes and humble gratitudes to this sacred place. The blue heron circled around the meadows as we hung around the front gate, and as much as we will miss this place, it feels great to give the heron it’s home back. The huge 4-lane road Drexler bulldozed looks green again, as new grasses and plants, particularly coltsfoot, reclaim the meadow.

A very special thing happened yesterday morning, that re-affirms for many of us just who we have on our side. Soon after we had got the call from our lawyer about the injunction decision, we gathered around the morning fire where breakfast was being made, to discuss next steps. We had mixed feelings, a tentative joy, a wary excitement, a bizarre situation in general. At the very least it was clear to us that this land is much closer to being kept wild than if we had done nothing.

As we gathered in a circle, a pack of 16 or 17 turkey vultures came from the forest and circled overhead. It was the first time they had been seen in such numbers, and the first time they had joined us overhead in such a way. At that moment, near the end of this particular stage in this struggle, we all fell silent and looked up, as the group of them circled above us. This was not the first time a significant flock of turkey vultures has appeared at a particularly profound time to show support to some of the people in this circle. For many of us it was a wonderful affirmation, a clear message of thanks and solidarity from the other species who we share this land with. That feeling will carry us for a long time.

Besides that, we also had a press conference on the land yesterday, where five of the land defenders spoke with various forms of media and other supporters and participants. The backdrop was the two row wampum flag, the mohawk unity flag, and a black and green flag, all signifying various elements of what has inspired us and some of the underlying principles our lives are based on. We attempted to explain that this land occupation is about way more than the Jefferson Salamander, and way more than just opposing one development. When we get full video or audio of this, well link to it.

They ended by saying to stay tuned for more news and events coming up. It'll be interesting to see what happens now that the process is moving back to the power players like the City and the Ministry of Natural Resources. Whatever happens though, I think the protesters have a lot to be proud of, it's proof positive that small groups can still make a difference through dedication and savvy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

City Spins

Here's the two cents on Justice Gray's decision concerning the HCBP occupation as of one hour ago.

GUELPH, ON, August 13, 2009 – Superior Court Justice Gray has issued his decision regarding two motions heard earlier this week regarding Guelph’s Hanlon Creek Business Park.

The City was successful in obtaining an injunction to keep people from trespassing and interfering with construction activities in relation to the Phase 1 lands. The Sheriff, as agent of the court, will be responsible for upholding the court order through the Guelph Police Department.

The Court also agreed with the City that the Ministry of Natural Resources has sole authority under the Endangered Species Act, including the authority to issue a stop work order, and has allowed the Minister of Natural Resources up to 30 days within which to consider the matter. During that time the Tributary "A" culvert and crossing works will be suspended. At the expiry of 30 days (or sooner if the Minister signifies in writing that she does not intend to issue an order under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 or if she issues such an order), the Court's order respecting further work on the lands will terminate.

In the meantime, the City of Guelph continues to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources. "We're pleased with Justice Gray's decision," says Guelph's mayor Karen Farbridge. "It sets the stage for more constructive dialogue with MNR in the coming month and beyond."

Guelph’s Chief Administrative Officer Hans Loewig shares Mayor Farbridge’s satisfaction with today's decision. “The City continues to take all of its responsibilities on this matter very seriously so we’re eager to continue our work with MNR to ensure potential impacts to the site are mitigated.”

...Only this time, David won!

As of yet I have not seen anything on the official lines, but this came through my Facebook message inbox from the group "Save Our Old Growth Forest" not 15 minutes ago.

[The] judge has made his decision, and has decided to grant BOTH injunctions!

what this means, is that the cities injunction for removal of protesters has been granted BUT because the defendants (us) filed an injunction against the city to stop work, this injunction has ALSO BEEN GRANTED.

MEANING that work at the HCBP cannot continue for 30 Days! 30 days ahead brings us to September 13, just two days before the city's deadline to have work completed. It has set this deadline in order to comply with restrictions around fisheries and habitat protection.

so it would seem that we beat them at their own game! We are just now waiting to hear how long we will have to clear the site, but will keep things updated on fb and on the website.

THANKS TO EVERYONE!!! and please stay tuned.... :)


Whoa. Needless to say that this situation has surpassed all expectations. I sure the City is preparing its response, and I'm sure the HCBP occupation group will have more to say once the news sinks in. And once I hear anything more I'll post straight away, but indeed, a huge victory for the grassroots greens, and dare I say, precedent setting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Protesters Win Again!?!

The improbable story of the Hanlon Creek Business Park occupation seems to be continuing unabated with another court victory under the hat of the occupiers that took over the lands of the Hanlon Creek Business Park to stop construction over two weeks ago. In court Monday, a provincial judge reserved his decision to grant the City's injunction until his written decision is delivered to attorneys on both sides at the end of this week. Justice Douglas Gray also upheld the conditions put down by Justice Bonnie Wein in last week's decision, but now protesters have to allow the city to do additional repair work such as removing log barriers and filling in trenches dug by the protesters, obstructing vehicles from entering the site.

Basically it came down to our old friend Jefferson Salamander. Amongst the evidence presented was a correspondence from the Ministry of Natural Resources from May and July that recommending the City not proceed with construction until further examination was done for the presence of the Jefferson salamander’s habitat following the discovery of a hybrid salamander on the site in April. Ian Hagman, Guelph district manager for the Ministry of Natural Resources, as a witness for the city testified that no legal action was taken to stop the city from doing construction on the site. Without knowing the exact spot of the salamander's habitat, the Ministry's hands were tied. Friday, HCBP protesters through their attorney filed their own montion of injunction against the city claiming that their environmental assessments weren't extensive enough.

In response to yesterday's rulings, and allegations that in the ruch to build the park that the city mat not have done their due diligence, the city posted this note on its website today:

A hearing at the Superior Court was held yesterday regarding the City of Guelph's motion for an injunction to end the occupation of the Hanlon Creek Business Park lands by protesters, and the protesters' motion to enjoin the City from continuing construction. The Court reserved its decision on both matters. The presiding judge indicated that a decision may be rendered by this Friday.

The City has worked diligently with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to take precautions and mitigate potential impacts to any potential Jefferson Salamander and/or its habitat on the Hanlon Creek Business Park site.

In advance of yesterday's injunction hearing, in response to a July 31 letter from the MNR to the City, both organizations collaboratively established a process to mitigate any potential impacts of the City's current work on the site - construction of what is know as Culvert A. Those discussions continued this morning and are ongoing.

Five action items are the outcome of an August 5 meeting between City officials and the MNR. They are recorded in meeting minutes submitted during yesterday’s proceedings. Among them is acknowledgment on the part of MNR that the culvert construction does not contravene the Endangered Species Act (ESA 2007) or any existing legislation. The MNR agreed that the City could recommence and complete the construction of Culvert A, as the work will be undertaken with due diligence and supervision consistent with the objectives of the Endangered Species Act.

Regardless of the outcome of the injunction process, the City of Guelph remains committed to determining the extent and location of potential Jefferson Salamander and/or its habitat in the Hanlon Creek Business Park.

The City further maintains that the Hanlon Creek Business Park is a crucial component of Guelph’s future. The Park is intended to provide 10,000 to 12,000 new jobs, and is part of the City’s plan to accommodate 32,400 new jobs by 2031 without sprawling beyond the city’s boundaries.

"A strong tax base and jobs are necessary parts of building a secure and prosperous future for the citizens of Guelph,” says Guelph’s mayor Karen Farbridge. “The City is committed to building a better future, but we are becoming increasingly concerned about our ability to do so."

Environmental protection, enhancement and monitoring measures for the Hanlon Creek Business Park exceed that of any other development in Guelph’s history because of the City's active involvement in the project. The City of Guelph has successfully partnered with two private sector developers to achieve this high level of protection of natural heritage lands, including preservation of the old growth forest.

From the HCBP Occupation Blog:

Today was another interesting day. Another packed courtroom of a diversity of supporters, and a long day in court. At the end of it the judge clearly didn’t know what to do. The lawyer for the 5 remaining named defendants presented evidence about how the City of Guelph has been blatantly ignoring serious concerns of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), and even though the MNR is not legally binding in this situation, the fact that a self-proclaimed ‘green’ city council and mayor have been ignoring the MNR’s concerns is pretty obscene. To top it off, the City, Mayor and all, have been saying as recent as a few days ago that the “At all stages of the project, the City will continue to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources, exercise all due diligence and conduct ongoing monitoring.”

So to clarify we called to the stand Ian Hagman, District Manager of the MNR here in Guelph, and he confirmed what they have been saying in letters all along – that the MNR’s position is that the City should never have started this construction, nor should the construction continue.

Based on this obvious inconsistency, the judge has taken a few days to think about his position. We will be notified by writing any day this week, or next week, or his decision on the injunctions today.

With another moral and judicial victory for the protesters, the city's carrying a lot of egg on their face, especially since they were the ones that brought about the injunction in the first place. It'll be interesting to see how Justice Gray rules this Friday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The drama of the occupation at the Hanlon Creek Business Park continues to defy expectations and explanations. A provincial judge offered a reprieve to protesters yesterday that in effect allows the occupation to continue for another week, but with a few provisos, as you'll see listed below.

From the HCBP Occupation blog:

Victory in court?!? This morning we were entering the state of mind that the police tactical unit could raid us immediately upon the granting of an injunction. And indeed they were ready and waiting in the court building, but they did not get their wish. The courtroom was packed with 70-80 people, many of whom were new to the 7 defendants. An enormous thank you to everyone who came out to support!

Instead of granting an injunction, the judge decided to adjourn until Monday, August 10. Some of us didn’t sleep at all last night as we worked from 12 noon right through to 9am, preparing our legal defence in the form of affidavits. Despite our tiredness, our spirits remain strong among the company of so many amazing people, both with us in person and in spirit.

We have retained Eric Gillespie as our lawyer, who is the best possible lawyer for us. In 2006 he represented the Kortright Hills Neighbourhood Association in their fight against the Hanlon Creek Business Park, when they took the City to the Ontario Municipal Board. So he knows more than any other lawyer about this issue, and believes in our cause. He is also very well known as the lawyer who fought Wal-Mart in Guelph for 9 years, which was an epic battle which ultimately resulted in Wal-Mart coming to Guelph.

Here’s the rundown:

The City was pushing for an ‘all or nothing’ package where they wanted us to:

-leave the construction site and move to their designated ‘protest pen’ remove all structures
-allow the filling in of all trenches, the repair of the silt fencing (which was improperly installed in the first place), and allow the re-staking of survey stakes which unknown individuals removed, and allow all contractors to continue work, except for heavy machinery

Our lawyer argued that that would be essentially the same as the injunction. So instead, we got the judge to agree to let us stay right where we are, and keep all our structures! There are a few concessions however: we cannot have more than 30 people on site (as well as 5 from the media), and that can only include people who have already been at the site for at least 24 hours. We must allow the re-staking of survey stakes and the repair of the silt fencing, and we cannot build any new structures. We also must put a string around the main area where are occupying (the judge laughingly suggested some green hemp rope – she was in a good mood).

For a full detailing of the day in court, see Stephanie Dearing's excellent article on Live Journal.

Certainly a tremendous victory for this small band no matter what limits have been imposed on them by the judge. Whether or not it's sign that the moment and good luck will hold out for the protesters is the big question though.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Calm Before the Storm?

It's all quiet for now it seems as we're a little over 12 hours away from the court hearing for the City's injunction over the removal of protesters from the Hanlon Creek Business Park site.

From the HCBP Blog:

*** please help spread the word as far as possible ****

The city of Guelph is requesting an injunction in court. If they win the injunction, construction would continue and anyone on the site would be removed and imprisoned/fined.

If we win the construction stops and we stay on the land, and momentum around this issue will continue to grow. So we have an extremely important and urgent request.


Help us pack the courtroom and show the city how much support we have. The location is downtown, at 74 Woolwich St., across from the River Run Center.

Please please please, if you can help in any way, we would appreciate it. Most importantly, the land, the old growth forest, the Hanlon creek, would all appreciate it. There is a lot at stake with tomorrow’s court date.

Anyone interested in helping to flyer at the buses beforehand that would be awesome!! Please email us hcbpoccupation@gmail.com

I was also sent this link to a couple of good articles about the protest on Digital Journal, check it out by clicking here.

As for myself, I work in Toronto on Tuesday's so I'll be unable to attend the hearing in person, but as soon as I hear anything via the interweb, I'll pass it along.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Onward and Upward

Today, I posted two things that have been sitting in my e-mail waiting for me to remember they were there for a couple of months now. In that time, I've found myself lagging as new projects came flying fast and furious. So if there's one thing personally that has come out as a positive from the recent protest in the Hanlon Creek Business Park land, it's that it got me off my butt to pay attention to this blog again. And for that I doubly salute the protesters.

Though it may be late, I am glad to finally have got those two e-mails out of my inbox and on to my blog. I like interacting with people and I like it when people send me comments, letters, or press releases about things that matter to them. I'm a big fan of dialogue and I believe that the internet can play a big role in starting them and fostering constructive conversation. So I apologize to those people for my slow uptake as of late, and I hope that they and others continue to send me their thoughts and opinions.

As for the picture, I just thought it was weird that CTV had their own traffic cones, as seen at the HCBP site last Thursday.

Standing Up for undocumented workers

I got these letters from a woman named Mary Carl back in June. She wanted to bring attention to events surrounding the treatment of migrant workers, or so-called illegals. Clearly passionate about the issue, I'm sorry that I forgot about these for so long:

More Migrants Kidnapped by Kenney's Goons: Workplace Raids in Southern Ontario

GUELPH, May 30, 2009 —In the last couple of months, Canadian-immigrant relations have become tragic, marked by unnecessarily violent, mass US-style raids, detainments and deportations of migrant workers throughout southern Ontario. Among the over 100 workers arrested, many were picked up while travelling to work, others dragged from workplaces and their homes as well as from public spaces, held at gunpoint, and left handcuffed for extensive periods of time leading to the injuries of arms and wrists.

The latest example of this trend took place this past Wednesday (May 27) and Thursday (May 28). Early Wednesday morning, Immigration enforcement officers swarmed Lakeside Greenhouse in Leamington, Ontario, and arrested at least nine female migrant food packaging workers. The women, Mexican citizens, are currently being detained in Windsor County Jail. Early Thursday morning in Leamington, at least another ten workers, seven Mexican and three Asian, were arrested on Immigration related charges on their way to work. This time, arrests were made by Leamington Police, which is illegal as Immigration does not fall under municipal Police jurisdiction and is a federal matter.

The majority of the arrested are in Canada on valid visas, and some have pending refugee claims and are at risk in their country of origin. One of the detainees is pregnant. Though individuals awaiting such refugee claim hearings legally hold a level of protection against immigration arrests and are in fact legally allowed to work, immigration enforcement officers bypassed protocol and disregarded any humane sensitivity when they pursued their aggressive raid.

The criminalization of these women is wrong, and we must ask ourselves what truly has been their crime? It is critical to acknowledge that as Canada continues to make it close to impossible for hardworking immigrants of trade and manual labour skills to enter our country legally with full rights, the system is pushing hardworking immigrants into precarious conditions, as these individuals continue to strive to better themselves and seek a livelihood where the opportunities are tangible. These individuals will take the risk of undocumentation as again they need to ensure their subsistence, and as the door of documented opportunity is being shut in their faces.

These individuals are strong contributors to our economy and these latest arrests that are part of a wider crackdown emphasizes that our immigration system is in dire need of a reworking. Furthermore, it seems rather irresponsible for our current Conservative government to be putting such focus and aggression on pursuing and arresting these individuals, who again should not be seen as criminals, while there is a plethora of real, and urgent issues to focus on which are affecting Canadians such as unattainable EI, mass layoffs, and below-poverty line welfare rates. Shamefully, all of this is happening while the government continues to bail-out the wealthy whose unrestrained greed has caused the current economic crisis, while working people, both immigrant and Canadian, pay the price. There needs to be a stop to this unfounded aggression and discrimination against migrants.

Terror and Violence Against Migrants: By-products of Recent Shifts in Immigration Policy

Unprecedented in Canada, early this April, Canadian Border Services Agency and South Simcoe Police conducted similar illegal raids in Simcoe, Toronto, Leamington and in Windsor. Nearly 100 of hundreds of detained workers were rounded up at Cericola Farms’ food processing factories. In this case, these workers were held at gun point and pushed into a cafeteria where workers with proof of citizenship and permanent residency were separated from workers without full documentation, in turn immediately criminalizing the latter. These individuals were then transferred and kept immobile, shackled on a bus for a reported 8 hours. Around the same time, dozens of undocumented people were picked up in places unrelated to their workplace, some by enforcement officers waiting outside of shelters or impersonating lawyers. In the same mean-spirited fashion, raided homes where targeted workers were absent had the workers' possessions illegally confiscated by enforcement.

Eventually, over 100 of these workers were driven to the Rexdale Immigration Detention Centre, where they were pushed into a room with no furniture to wait unattended for several more hours. An immigration official then rushed through their rights in a reported 15 minutes using complicated, legal-term saturated language, providing them with biased recommendations, and reportedly did not adequately identify documents and materials which were pressured onto migrants to sign. Immigration enforcement provided the detained workers with false documents that they had illegally devised and that are not part of the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This inadequate level of information and support resulted in many workers unintentionally waiving their rights to counsel and options for delaying their removal and appealing to procedural actions.

Later in April, 41 detained workers, all of whom had their original passports stolen from them by unscrupulous, corrupt agents at TNT Recruitment, were forced out of Canada and deported to Thailand.

Again demonstrating a lack of sensitivity and justice, immigration authorities did not consider the context of these cases, as many arrested workers formerly possessed prior temporary work permits, but fell into a precarious status for a number of legitimate reasons. Some reported that they faced severe danger if they were to return to their countries of origin, and some were working a second job (not authorized for them to work at, voiding their permit) because the only job they were allowed to do paid below a living wage. While others reportedly were forced to quit their documented jobs, in turn voiding their permit, due to a sexually exploitative employer. These factors have not received attention, nor any investigations have been forwarded, and no charges have been laid against any of the employers of the arrested.

These cases stem from the regressive changes to our immigration system designed to ramp up the exploitation of (im)migrants in Canada. Repression and raids have accompanied the changes to the Immigration system made by the Harper Conservatives. All throughout Canada last summer, there were mass protests against the passing of the racist and classist Bill C-50, which was eventually passed in June 2008 with the Liberals refusing to vote against it for fear of prompting a politically undesirable election. It is critical to familiarize ourselves with this new bill which attacks immigrants' rights in a variety of ways, but an example of one of the most blatantly discriminatory new policies, is that it allows the Minister to set quotas on the "category" of person that can legally set foot in Canada. This includes setting quotas on countries of origin, regardless of whether individuals have skills Canada is in need of. Setting quotas on the basis of a person’s country of origin represents a critical shift in Canadian policy towards legislation that has implicit precedents in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, the Order in Council of 1911 prohibiting the landing of any immigrant belonging to the Negro race" in Canadian history, and the "None is too many" rule applied to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe during Second World War. Under Stephen Harper, and more recently under Minister of "Censorship and Deportation" Jason Kenney, Canada's immigration policy has taken a significant step backward towards its racist roots.

It is important for us to recognize the root causes of immigration and the context of the recent criminalization of (im)migrants. Many (im)migrants are forced to come to Canada as their home countries have been savaged by Wars and neo-liberal economic models that promote corporate exploitation and the destruction of local economies. Half of all people arriving in Canada today are on temporary visas and have very little chance of permanent residency. Half a million live in Canada without any status at all. Newcomers continue to make important contributions to our country, and deserve respect and dignity. Canada should regularize non-status members of our communities so they can continue to contribute to our economy while living in safety and peace. We must grant them status, and put an end to the dehumanizing and criminalizing attacks on migrant communities.

Guelph Takes Public Action Against Dehumanizing (Im)migrants in Canada

June 2, 2009 - In the past couple of months, the largest immigration raids in Canadian history have occurred under the public's noses. Following these unnecessarily violent US-style raids and arrests of hundreds of migrant workers, more than 100 workers were detained, and forty-one deportations were executed throughout Southern Ontario.

The latest example of this trend took place this past Wednesday (May 27) and Thursday (May 28). Early Wednesday morning, immigration enforcement officers swarmed Lakeside Greenhouse in Leamington, Ontario, and arrested and detained at least nine female migrant workers. Early Thursday morning, in Leamington, another ten workers were arrested and detained on Immigration related charges. In response, in recent months, there have been many mass public actions throughout Canada denouncing these attacks on (im)migrant communities, including here in Guelph.

On May 2, three full vehicles from the City of Guelph, altogether traveling as the ‘Guelph's Workers Solidarity Bus’, headed to Toronto for the May Day of Action Rally and March to express opposition to the series of raids. In the spirit of May Day (May 1st), an annual day devoted to workers rights, this march is co-organized annually by a number of groups including No One is Illegal –Toronto Chapter, and Migrante Ontario, an alliance of Filipino and migrant rights advocacy organizations.

Along with over 2,000 other participants, the Guelph contingent denounced increased government cruelty towards under-protected workers such as factory workers, indigenous people, queer folk, refugees, and women in shelters.

Another Guelph response took the form of a worker awareness and community discussion event organized by Student Support for Migrant Workers. The event, which took place on April 30 at 10 Carden Community Space, featured speakers from many different associations: Janet McLaughlin, an Instructor in International Development Studies at the University of Guelph; Marco Luciano, a coordinator with Migrante Ontario; and Craig Fortier, a community organizer with No One is Illegal – Toronto. All spoke eloquently on the plight of marginalized immigrant workers in Canada, who have often served as scapegoats in times of economic uncertainty, especially ethnically marginalized ones.

Over 60 attendees filled the venue. Curiosity piqued and minds opened. Many left with the growing sense that it is important for us to recognize the root causes of immigration and the context of the recent criminalization of (im)migrants.

In light of the ongoing raids, these kinds of public actions are still needed. Hardworking, skilled labour is much needed in our country, yet Canada makes it nearly impossible for immigrants possessing these qualities to enter our country legally.

These individuals are strong contributors to our economy; these recent arrests emphasize the fact that our immigration system is in dire need of reworking. Repression and raids have accompanied the regressive changes to the Immigration system made by the Harper Conservatives that have been designed to ramp up the exploitation of (im)migrants in Canada (e.g., the passing of Bill-C-50 in June 2008). Shamefully, all of this is happening while the government continues to bail-out the wealthy whose unrestrained greed has caused the current economic crisis, while working people, both immigrant and Canadian, pay the price. There needs to be a stop to this unfounded violence and discrimination against migrants.

Photo Cap: At the Mayday Dinner, community members listened intently as the speakers painted a picture of desperation among marginalized workers in Southern Ontario and throughout Canada.

Guelphite Appleseed

This is from a press release I got about the Appleseed Collective, an interesting project given recent concerns about food safety and quality. And though it's late, I find it a timely addition given the fact that the new documentary Food Inc is playing at the Bookshelf Cinema this week.


The Guelph Fruit Tree Project is one of several food security projects organized by the Appleseed Collective. Since 2006, the Appleseed Collective has been making use of the abundant food sources in the city, and have helped many people access free, healthy food. Now in our fourth year, we are working on expanding and improving our projects.

With the Fruit Tree Project, we register under-used fruit trees on private property, and then harvest the thousands of pounds of fruit with volunteers, and distribute it to various organizations. Some fruit is also used in free workshops that we organize on canning and other food preserving skills, and some is turned into value-added products for fundraising.

The fruit harvested through the Fruit Tree Project enjoys all the food catchwords of the day – local, fresh, organic – and on top of that, it’s free. “There's been a lot of emphasis recently on eating local, and there are a lot of fruit trees no one knows about that aren’t sprayed and produce beautiful fruit that just drops,” says Olivia Brown, a volunteer with the Appleseed Collective.

Currently the Appleseed Collective has access to more than 30 trees within city limits, and several orchards out of town. Most of the trees are apple, but there are pear, cherry, plum, mulberry, crabapple, and grapevines. Organizations on the receiving end include Wyndham House, Our Place, the Shelldale Center, several neighbourhood groups, the Guelph Food Bank, the Campus Food Bank, Guelph Union of Tenants and Supporters, the Welcome In Drop In Center, and more.

The Appleseed Collective is looking to expand our database of trees, volunteers, and recipient organizations. We are looking for members of the public with fruit or nut trees that could be made available, and we are also looking for volunteers and recipient organizations.

Harvesting all the fruit we have access to has been a challenge in past years due to our lack of a consistent means of transportation. This year we are seeking the donation of a truck or van for the purposes of transporting volunteers and fruit. This would dramatically increase our ability to ensure tens of thousands of pounds of fruit does not go to waste. If anyone can help us with such
a donation, it would greatly assist us and the many families who would benefit from our projects.

The Appleseed collective can be reached at hello@appleseedcollective.org More information can be found at our website, www.appleseedcollective.org

More on the Appleseed Collective:

The Appleseed Collective is a Guelph-based organization working to create more lasting food security and social justice. In other words, we are working to create more access to affordable, healthy, local food, and to help people re-learn food skills that lead to self-sufficiency. Since 2006, we have:

- organized dozens of workshops on canning, seed saving, fermenting,
identifying edible and medicinal wild plants, efficient garden design, and more.
- harvested and distributed thousands of pounds of fruit to people in need that otherwise would have rotted.
- organized spring seed exchanges for the past three years, enabling access to free vegetable seeds for people’s gardens.
- been involved in numerous plantings of edible plants and fruit trees in public spaces along the Speed and Eramosa rivers,
- helped start several community gardens.
- And we are always working on cultivating stronger alliances with others working in the food security and social justice sectors.

Until this year, we have always been a completely volunteer-run organization, with people pitching in when they have time. In the winter of 2009 we received a small grant to go towards one organizer, but essentially we remain volunteer-run.