Occupy Toronto protesters settle in for winter
They’re in for the cold, long haul.
More than 500 Occupy Toronto protesters are getting ready for winter by setting up three yurts Mongolian wood huts and insulating their tents as the temperature drops.
“Several unions came Air Max in and donated these yurts for use throughout the winter,” said Brandon Harris, a protester training to become one of the lead medics at St. James Park. “As long Air Max as there’s a heater inside, it will slowly heat up. There are vents on the top for cooking.”
Survival mode is kicking for the protesters who set up camp in the park on Oct. 15.
“The weather has been really kind to us, but I don’t imagine that will continue,” said food team member Antonin Smith. “Our winterization efforts are beginning. One of the first things is we need to get every tent off the ground because the ground stays very cold. We have a lot of skids and plywood. After that, you have to start insulating the top and dealing with moisture.”
The sleeping bags belonging to Harris, 23, and his father are lined with military blankets so they can fight off the bitter night cold. At the foot of their bags is a propane catalytic heater.
The three yurts cost $21,000, a cost picked up by unions, including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
One hut will serve as a medical area and another has been designated for use as a post office and library. The largest of the three may act as a warming centre or dining room.
“In the mornings, it is quite chilly outside the tents,” Harris said. “As long as people are layered up the right way and people are taking the proper precautions, we should be able to avoid frostbite and hypothermia and other things like that.”
Air Canada donated six rolls of foam thermal sheeting on Sunday, which Harris said will be used to help insulate the yurts and some of the tents at the site.
Besides the yurts, teams of two patrol the park to ensure everyone has warm, dry socks and aren’t feeling under the weather.
“We also have a building inspection committee t Air Max hat goes around to inspect people’s tents to make sure they’re ready for the winter,” Harris said.
Toront Air Max o Police said Monday they’re not going to “speculate on what might happen” with a potential eviction.
“We’ve said from the beginning it’s about public safety and peaceful protest,” said police spokesman Mark Pugash.
“Frozen peanut butter is difficult to deal with,” Smith said. “The flip side is we no longer have to worry about refrigeration. As long as Toronto keeps helping us, there will be . . . hot meals and drinks.”.