Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Not Goodbye - the beginning of Nonviolent Resistance

Goodbye to Red Hill valley?

Protesters say farewell as bulldozers poised to make east Hamilton greenspace a construction zone starting today

By Lori Fazari
The Hamilton Spectator. Tuesday August 5, 2003 (front page) Hundreds of people came out to say farewell (sic) to Red Hill valley as they knew it. Today bulldozers arrive and begin work on the new north-south road.
When Brian Tammi wakes up in his tent this morning, he'll be breaking city bylaw number 01-219, which has to do with municipal parks.
Tammi and his fellow campers are well aware of that. It's the reason they set up camp this weekend on a patch of land at the end of Greenhill Avenue, off Mount Albion Road in the east end.
This morning, the green space officially becomes a construction zone, the physical start of building the Red Hill Creek Expressway.
"No entry beyond this point," says the sign posted at the edge of the grass.
But Tammi, 18, and other activists are making a last-ditch effort to stop the start of construction and show their opposition to paving the Red Hill valley.
This fight's been going on long before Tammi's time, decades before he was born. But the moment has arrived for bulldozers to begin work on the expressway that will connect the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway on the Mountain to the Queen Elizabeth Way in east Hamilton.
Dufferin Construction crews were to arrive early this morning at the eastern edge of the valley, at the dead-end of Greenhill Avenue, which will be extended to connect with on and off ramps to the expressway.
Yesterday, protesters, neighbours and those drawn by the sight of the crowd of hundreds spent the afternoon in the sun in the park, listening to anti-expressway speakers. They gathered for a group picture, with a line of trees in the background, and held a potluck.
Tammi was the first one here, Saturday afternoon.
Others were supposed to camp out with him that night but couldn't make it, so it was him alone -- one man with a tent and tarp, camping supplies and the conviction that the expressway is a bad idea.
"This expressway is, for lack of a better word, silly," he said yesterday afternoon, sitting by the campers' tents while the crowd listened to one speaker after another.
"Economically, environmentally, legally, it's not sound."
Tammi often rides his mountain bike on the valley trails. On Saturday he was loaded down with gear, so his mother dropped him off at Greenhill Avenue, just before the rain started pouring.
He camped in the rain here just last month. Expressway opponents spent a weekend camping and planning ways to block the start of construction without violence. Tammi said some people were scared off from coming out this time, after the city sent a letter threatening to arrest or sue protesters.
"It's just bullying tactics and it's worked," he said.
Things were peaceful on the Civic Holiday weekend. Tammi was joined Sunday by other protesters, six of whom camped out with him that night. They spent the afternoon digging out a circle of grass to plant flowers in a Greenhill Community Garden, topped with a birdhouse. Their food was plentiful, with several watermelons for the potluck.
Tammi has been involved in many a protest and can't understand why more people don't get involved. "That's disgusting that people think they can't change anything," he said. "Apathy rules."
He wasn't sure what to expect this morning when construction crews arrive. "I don't plan to risk arrest," he said. "If they ask me to leave, I'll leave and I'll just return when it cools down."
As long as he stays off the grass, as required under bylaw 01-219.

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