Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.
The city is also planning to demolish the encampments rather than fix them under $10 million dollars in the mayor’s budget. That could leave the area homeless; city policy requires a minimum of $300 per homeless individual or family.
The homeless encampment was established a year ago, as a solution to increasing numbers of people sleeping on the streets.
The City of Toronto is considering dismantling the encampments and setting up a new community of shared shelter to replace them, creating a “transitional housing program” that could eventually house up to 300 people.
When asked if the city is prepared to take the risk of an encampment being in a bad place, the city’s top emergency management official answered no, because they are just not prepared to do so.
“If there is a risk, that risk is a health and safety risk,” said Jennifer Kettie, the city’s manager of emergency response services.
At one meeting of the executive committee in July, council had been presented with a $10 million budget for building new housing, Kettie said, of which a portion is earmarked for homelessness support services.
Kettie told the executive committee that the city has not done an adequate assessment and that the city staff in charge of the program cannot make a determination as to how many people could sleep there at night. She said there are concerns for the safety of people who don’t understand the rules.
But staff members of council have told reporters that the safety of a homeless person is not their primary concern in this plan. Instead, they are concerned that the city will not have the money to make the new housing program successful.
In the past, the city has been accused of not caring for the homeless.