Residents of a downtown Toronto neighbourhood are calling on the municipal authorities to take motion in the case of a homeless encampment situated of their neighborhood.
The group, comprised of greater than a dozen native companies and residences, has penned a letter to Mayor Olivia Chow and different officers. It raises quite a lot of important security considerations.
“Residents are experiencing fear, stress and anxiety from this encampment,” the letter reads partly.
Clarence Square Park, situated close to Front Street West and Spadina Avenue, is now largely occupied by tightly-situated tents.
The letter can also be addressed to Spadina-Fort York councillor and Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik, Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw, MPP Chris Glover and MP Kevin Vuong.
Residents say they’ve witnessed quite a lot of incidents over the previous a number of months alone. Among them is an alleged bodily assault on a feminine worker from a close-by enterprise.
Their main considerations additionally embody harassment, human feces and urine within the park and tents being heated with propane tanks.
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“We would like this park cleaned up. We would like it to be a safe place again,” stated Jason Backs, a property supervisor within the space and resident himself. “We would like to be able to take our children to the park.”
For now, that isn’t one thing he’s fully snug with.
“Unfortunately, during COVID there was an explosion of tents,” he stated. “Now they have a generator. There’s been a number of fires.”
Toronto Fire Services (TFS) confirms it lately responded to a fireplace on the encampment. Video obtained by Global News reveals thick smoke billowing and flames. TFS tells us there have been no reported accidents and a trigger has not been decided.
Area resident Winnie McDonagh is amongst these calling for the park to be cleared.
“One of my original ideas when the armouries were being offered was just move the whole crew of them over to one of the armouries, so they can stay together,” McDonagh stated throughout an interview.
Deputy Mayor Malik tells Global News in an e-mail that whereas she understands and shares the considerations of residents, eradicating individuals from metropolis parks with out ample indoor shelter and housing has not traditionally had lasting outcomes.
“Too often this approach has only resulted in new encampments in other parks. We need a multipronged approach to build a durable solution,” she wrote.
Malik says she has been involved with the neighborhood, apartment associations, property administration firms, BIAs and native service suppliers for months. She says she has additionally been assembly recurrently with metropolis workers to speed up work on extra rapid measures.
This contains having outreach employees visiting the positioning each day, around-the-clock safety, and having Toronto Fire go to the positioning for evaluation and academic functions, in addition to the removing of propane tanks, butane cylinders and different fireplace hazards.
Outreach employee Lorraine Lam says whereas encampments will not be an excellent answer, for some it’s the just one out there.
“Encampments are a symptom of a really, really deep housing crisis that we are in and that’s been worsening for decades,” she stated.
While finances talks within the metropolis have been largely targeted on the property tax improve owners must bear, Lam additionally factors to hovering rents.
“We’re in the middle of February right now and a lot of winter supports are going to close in April, leaving hundreds without options.”
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