Toronto officials defend large-scale police deportation of homeless camps


7:34Listen to the conversation between Toronto spokesperson Brad Rose and As It Happens host Carol Off

A spokesperson for the City of Toronto said that the presence of a large number of police and security personnel in downtown parks is to protect city workers and people living in tents to prevent the protests from turning into violent incidents.

On Tuesday, dozens of police and private security guards showed up at Trinity Bellwoods Park with vehicles, drones, security fences and other equipment. Deport 20 to 25 people living in camps for the homeless.

At first, the residents of the park refused to leave, believing that the city’s shelter system was unsafe. Their supporters formed a human chain around the camp.

At night, after the city government promised to find permanent housing for them, the residents agreed to leave. An outreach worker told CBC NewsThe police said that the three were arrested.

Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross was interviewed When it happens The host Carol Guan. This is part of their conversation.

Are you satisfied with the situation at Trinity Bellwoods Park yesterday?

I think no one is satisfied that we must have a police presence and the protests we saw in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

We are very happy that we were not injured. Unfortunately, three people were arrested. But our only goal yesterday was to encourage people to come in and receive the services and support provided.

To encourage people to do this, you have…many armed police, many of which are tactical equipment. They have trucks. They have cruisers. They have safety fences. You have more police horses. You have a drone flying overhead. You have a private security company with more than 100 people there.

So this is an extraordinary display of power for a group of no more than dozens of people in the largest tent. So why do you call those “encourage” people to go to shelters?

…The homeless people in the camp are not people’s concerns about safety. Is a protester. Our experience a few weeks ago… Clean up the camp at Lamport Stadium Protested and, unfortunately, violent. I don’t speak on behalf of the police, but I know that when they make an action plan, the way they do it is commensurate with the potential response they might get, and we might get it too.

This is a city-led action. This fence was introduced by the city government to protect the camp residents and city government staff.

The police encountered some resistance when trying to deport residents of a camp in Trinity-Bellwoods Park in Toronto. 2:55

Protect the camp residents? How does that protect them?

The fence is to ensure that our staff-street, home, and outreach staff-can contact people living in the camp, let them know that the intrusion notice posted 10 days ago yesterday is being implemented, and we will encourage them to pack up Own belongings and enter the room. If they choose not to do so, that’s fine, it’s their right, but we will clean up that camp today.

They lived there for a year. So, if this is all you do and you just want to help them, why didn’t you provide it more than a year ago when people started moving into this park and other parks in Toronto?

we have already. In fact, we have had more than 20,000 interactions with people who live outside, encouraging them to come in. Due to COVID-19, we have expanded the shelter system to ensure that we have physical distance, including adding more hotel rooms and adding more hotel rooms so that they can enter.

This [encampment residents] The people interviewed yesterday made it clear that they would not go to the shelter system [because] They are overcrowded. They are dangerous. The women interviewed yesterday described the physical violence they encountered.

ill. There are drugs. These are terrible environments. No one wants to live in a tent in the park, but if this is better than what you provide, how can you blame them?

I think we will have to agree or disagree, and then, what is safer. The camp is also a very unsafe place. There are drugs. Sexual offenders who enter the camp are criminal acts — not the homeless themselves, but other people who enter the camp. There is a fire. This year alone, we have had 114 fires, and there have been 9 camps in the past two weeks. There are debris and other combustibles.

On Tuesday, camp supporters held hands and formed a barrier around the tent in Trinity Bellwoods Park. (Linda Ward/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

There is a fire in the shelter.I’m sure you know The disabled woman on the 15th floor of that place was left in the fire that winter in a [hotel] Homeless shelter. When they decide that they don’t want to live there, do you think they might think about it?

The difference here is that the shelter is located in buildings and hotels with fire extinguishing and fire fighting systems.

I am familiar with the incident [of] you said. This is a completely different thing. But people are safer inside.

A woman [who lived in the park] Yesterday I said it might be 10 years…Trying to get housing because there is no housing in Toronto, right?

In fact, since mid-December 2020, more than 244 new affordable support units have been built. Currently there are 82 projects under construction in the city. Over the next 12 months, there will be more than 1,200 new permanent and supportive housing opportunities available for occupancy.

We just announced a partnership with the University Health Network and United Way of Greater Toronto to build 51 modular supportive homes in Parkdale.

And it costs money. As you know, Toronto is a very wealthy city. How much did it cost yesterday? Because we only look at this contracted private security company Star Security, [of] 22 million U.S. dollars was used to supervise shelters. How much did you spend yesterday to drive those people out of the park?

Yesterday the cost of enforcing the trespass notification is still accumulating, so I don’t have that figure yet.

This year alone, the city’s budget for homeless people and housing support reached 662 million U.S. dollars. In 2019, it was US$365 million. The city has already spent millions of dollars and will continue to do so to ensure that the homeless have a place to go, whether it’s a temporary shelter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or eventually entering a home.

Brad Ross is Toronto’s Chief Communications Officer. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

The people in the park yesterday said they had a better life in the park. Although it was terrible to live there, they lived better than in the shelter. This is not my opinion. It’s theirs. So do you disagree with their views?

People must decide for themselves where to live. I am speaking for this city.

When they lived in the park, they did just that.

Unless they are not allowed to live in the park. You cannot set up tents and other buildings and parks, and you cannot cause uncontrolled fires in the park to put others at risk.

Will the police conduct similar raids in the coming weeks?

We have issued intrusion notices to other camps. We will continue to use all possible means to ask people in these camps to consider accepting proposals to provide safe indoor space and accommodation.

If they don’t want to do that, that’s okay. However, when the city government chooses to enforce these trespass notices, they will need to vacate these parks. We will make this decision in the future.


Written by Sheena Goodyear, document from CBC News. The interview was produced by Chris Hubbard. The Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.


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