Riverdale resident protests bank addition
Seven News, 7 August 1976
“Health Before Wealth”.
That’s what one of Morris Silber’s picket signs said as he walked back and forth in front of the Bank of Nova Scotia at the corner of Broadview and Gerrard.
Silber is protesting a major new section being added on to the bank. The addition blocks off the only southward-facing window of a flat above a store in the building next door, 69 Broadview, which Silber owns.
Silber has been trying without success for months to get the bank to alter its plans. The project has gone on relentlessly, and the window is now permanently bricked up.
Silber says that he has turned to picketing because traditional channels of communication have gotten him nowhere. Letter writing, hiring a lawyer, and a meeting with the bank’s chief of operations, Rod Taylor, have all produced nothing except “a lot of talk”, and frustration according to Silber.
The bank has stated that the addition “conforms to all local building bylaws” and that their lawyers are “watching” the situation.
Silber concedes that the bank is within its legal rights in bricking up the window, but points to this as a case of the law riding roughshod over the needs of people. Because the area is zoned as commercial, he says, the city and the bank are ignoring the fact that there are people living in the affected building.
“There are many working people living in commercial areas, above stores”, says Silber, “but they don’t care about them. But these are good, decent people, whose rights should be worth as much as anyone else’s”.
“They build an open air zoo because they didn’t want animals blocked up the way they were in Riverdale Zoo, but they won’t give the same consideration to people”, he says.
The window in question is the only source sunlight and fresh air for the bedroom and the bathroom in the flat.
At the very least, Silber wants the bank to pay for the cost of putting in a skylight as an alternative source of light. But the bank has refused to promise anything in writing. Verbally, it has said it may provide a small sum which it “feels is sufficient”. It’s not enough according to Silber, to even pay an architect to look at the place and draw plans, let alone to pay for the work. The bank says Silber should be happy to get anything, since “the bank has no legal obligation compensate Mr. Silber for loss of light and air.”
So far, in spite of Morris Silber’s picketing, it seems to be ‘Wealth Before Health’ at the corner of Broadview and Gerrard.