A security fence surrounding much of Trinity Bellwoods Park will remain for the next few weeks as town crews have reseeded the grass in this area and the fence will protect it as it grows, the town said. from Toronto.
The metal fence was erected at the south end of the park nearly two weeks ago when Toronto police, city employees and private security guards forcibly emptied a homeless encampment on Tuesday the 22nd. June. Another fence has locked up a smaller area in the north. the end of the park, located at Queen Street West and Strachan Avenue.
Brad Ross, city spokesperson, said on Monday that the fence at the south end was only meant to protect the grass. Homeless advocates, however, said the city had put up the fence there because it was determined to prevent homeless people from camping in that area again.
“We re-seeded the grass and it will last a few more weeks while the seeding sets in. Until then we leave the fence in place, ”Ross told CBC Toronto.
“We have security guards there to make sure people don’t encroach or destroy the fence or anything like that. It really is that simple,” he said. for follow-up.
Ross said the city was accounting for the cost of cleaning up the Trinity Bellwoods Park camp, including overtime costs. On Monday, he was unable to provide an estimate of the cost of the fence or the security guards stationed there since the camp was emptied.
“We should have it very soon, I hope, and that we can share that,” Ross said. “Once everything is in order, we are happy to share it.”
Brute force is not a solution to homelessness, residents say
Former residents of Trinity Bellwoods settlement, for their part, said the real solution to homelessness was permanent or rent-geared-to-income housing, not taxpayer money spent on police, horses and private security agents harassing and displacing the poor.
When asked if there were any lessons to be learned from the camp clean-up, which was criticized by at least one newspaper columnist as being brutal and mean-spirited, Ross said it was an exercise maintenance of public safety.
“The reason we had the police there was to ensure the safety of the town staff who engaged with the residents who were in the encampment, encouraging them to voluntarily enter a safe space,” a- he declared.
Ross said 14 people had agreed to be referred to accommodation or hotel programs and police said there had been three arrests. The city has yet to say where these programs are located and how camp residents are now doing inside.
“Overall, I think the City of Toronto’s goal in all of this is to get people in where it’s safe,” Ross said.
“Come to think of it, again 14 people were accommodated. We met protesters. If we hadn’t met protesters, there would have been no need for police. We could have spoken to people like we have been doing this throughout the pandemic. “
The city considers the settlements dangerous and illegal, saying there have been fires and the settlements do not have access to water and sanitation. Under the Parks By-law and the Toronto Street Use By-law, people are not allowed to erect structures on city property.
In addition to Trinity Bellwoods, the city has issued notices under the Ontario Trespassing Act at the Lamport Stadium, Moss Park and Alexandra Park camps. The city has not indicated when it will clear the next encampment.
“When we enforce the next park trespassing advisory, we have incredible hopes that it will be peaceful,” said Ross.
City must negotiate in good faith, lawyer says
Doug Johnson Hatlem, street pastor with Sanctuary Ministries in Toronto, said the fence was in place to prevent homeless people from entering.
“It is high time the city came to the table in good faith to negotiate with those who have good reasons not to use the shelters or for whom there is no shelter space,” Hatlem said. Monday.
Sara Frank, an Encampment Support Network volunteer at Trinity Bellwoods, said the fence prevents everyone from enjoying the park and that it is misleading for the city to claim it cares about green spaces when it is uprooted a community garden near the greenhouse in the park.
“People need housing,” she said on Monday. “Rent to match income is what people say they want. “
WATCH | CBC’s Ali Chiasson report on Trinity Bellwoods Park: