With Toronto Police on hand, city workers clear a small encampment in the downtown park

City workers, with Toronto police officers on standby, cleared a small encampment in a downtown park early Sunday.

The city confirmed in an email that there were ten buildings in Clarence Square Park, near Wellington Street West and Spadina Avenue, and that workers were evacuating eight tents.

It said one tent and one structure will remain in the park, two people accepted references to indoor spaces, and one person returned to where he or she had stayed before staying in the camp.

According to the municipality, the eight tents were empty and only four people lived in the park. However, a lawyer says that at least six people lived in the park.

According to the city parks, encampments are not allowed in city parks, the municipality said. “Any tent or structure that encroaches on a city park or right-of-way for the purpose of living or occupying a space is considered an illegal encampment and is subject to enforcement of violations,” an email read.

But homeless advocates say the city’s shelter system is full, people are being told there is no space in shelters at night, and homeless people have no place to go.

The city issued an eviction notice on June 4, giving residents 72 hours to leave the park.

According to the city, Streets to Homes staff provided indoor spaces to people living in the park. Since January, staff said it has visited Clarence Square 152 times and referred 17 people from the site to covered accommodation.

Clearing violates human rights, lawyer says

Doug Johnson Hatlem, a street pastor for Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto, said Sunday the camp’s eviction is a violation of human rights.

“It doesn’t fit into a strategy to get people housing as the most important thing. It’s one that creates serious mistrust among residents in the city and creates fear and a further sense of violence and exclusion from the city that should be for everyone.” , he says. said.

He said he thinks the city is determined to remove encampments from its parks this summer and is not concerned about the safety of those without housing.

“They want people to die unsupported in overdose canyons. They’re fine with people seemingly sleeping on sidewalks, freezing to death in bus shelters, burning to death in parks far away. This isn’t about safety,” he said. †

Johnson Hatlem said he was notified of the camp eviction about 8:40 a.m. He said two unaccommodated people living in tents in the park accepted offers of places in shelters, one resident of a small shelter remains, and the other unaccommodated people living there packed up and left quickly. He said it is the first time he knows the city cleared a camp on Sunday morning.

“The city’s response is the opposite of a response focused on health, safety, reducing homelessness and complying with the law, especially the statutory right to housing,” he said.

The city disagrees, saying that living in a camp is unhealthy and that the parks should be safe and accessible for all Toronto residents.

Johnson Hatlem said six police officers were in the park when the camp was evacuated.

Police say officers were present but ‘not used’

Police questioned the city about the camp’s eviction and said officers were in the park but did not clear the tents.

“The city is the leader in homelessness and encampment, so talk to them about any evictions,” Const says. That says Laura Brabant, spokesperson for the police.

“Only as a last resort, and in conjunction with city personnel, would police officers take enforcement action,” she said. “Note, officers were near the park but were not used.”

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