PUBLIC STATEMENT AGAINST ENCAMPMENT EVICTIONS
John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
Ana Bailao, Deputy Mayor of Toronto, Councillor Ward 9 Davenport, Right to Home Working Group
Mary-Anne Bedard, General Manger, Shelter Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto
Janie Romoff, General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, City of Toronto
Encampment Support Network
Planners Network Steering Committee
Winter is here, and people are still living in encampments in Toronto’s parks and in other public spaces. In responding to encampment residents, we face a choice between coercion and consent. The response by the City of Toronto so far has been contradictory – while inconsistently tolerating encampments, offers of shelter have often been paired with the threat of eviction. There are many reasons why people experiencing homelessness may choose to remain in a tent. Shelters can include surveillance, dehumanizing conditions, potential exposure to COVID, and a lack of privacy. Shelters can prevent people from accessing the supports they need, whether that be a neighbourhood network, pets, partners, harm reduction and other life supports. There are also not enough shelter spaces available for those experiencing homelessness. This will likely worsen, as many more people are facing evictions from their homes in the months ahead.
We stand with residents. They are our neighbours, and right now, these tents are their homes. We all agree that it isn’t permanent or ideal for people to live in parks and other public spaces. In working with encampment residents, we ask the City to commit to a process of full, free and informed consent without violence or coercion. This will enable our neighbours experiencing homelessness to negotiate spaces that meet their need for privacy, safety and community support.
The Organization of Progressive Planning