On Tuesday, security officials were seen clearing out the longstanding homeless encampment in Toronto’s popular Trinity Bellwoods Park. According to CP24, officials were enforcing trespass notices issued by the city of Toronto on June 12, urging residents to seek shelter indoors. The city says that there are an estimated 20 to 25 people living in the encampment with around 65 structures standing in the park.
Mayor John Tory defended the move saying that the city acted in a manner that was "reasonable, firm, but compassionate." He expanded by saying, "I stand by what we have done which is a reasonable, firm, but compassionate way of dealing with this where we offer, and we offer, and we offer ways to take people safely indoors to housing, but there does come a time when it comes to camping in parks, which is unsafe and illegal, where you have to take action," Tory told CP24.
"I support what they did and I think it mostly went quite peacefully." Tory also added that with decreasing cases and improved vaccinations there is no longer any outbreaks of COVID-19 in Toronto's shelters nor is it a major concern. "They’re offered a hotel room, this is not something that can be seen to be unsafe."
On the topic of police and fences, Tory said it had nothing to do with the people getting evicted but the expected protestors and agitators who planned on creating a scene. "I didn’t decide on and wasn’t asked for my opinion on fences, but they were there to protect the safety of the city workers, both parks and recreation and streets to homes workers, who were there to speak to the remaining people experiencing homelessness and to try to convince them yet again to come inside and try to protect their safety, against what we had been warned were people who would come out and try and create a direct confrontation between those people."
Toronto is doubling its funding for shelters and supports from $365.8 million pre-pandemic in 2019 to $663.2 million this year. Tory says this shows Toronto is “working harder than any city government” on the issue of shelter and housing supports.
Tory said the city is committed to doing its best and working to get better in dealing with these situations, "I am sure that in the aftermath of this incident or series of events yesterday, I am sure there will be a full review of how you could do anything like this better if there was to be a next time. I am sure that is happening without me even asking."