Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.
What started in a bid to protect homeless people from being physically assaulted by the city started becoming a broader political challenge.
“This is what homelessness looks like when you don’t have the services that you need to meet the needs of your community, and you actually hurt people,” said Coun. Joe Cianci.
“While I get that the city has to make some decisions, I find it to be the kind of decisions that they don’t want to make. I don’t have any faith in people who are responsible for making those decisions.”
But he said he had faith in people he’s meeting this week.
“There’s thousands of people who are homeless in Toronto,” said Cianci. “And there is no way we can shelter and care for them by housing them ourselves.”
He said he’s heard from people who want to be housed but are worried about the price tag.
“I want to be able to help people but I don’t have the resources that can help them,” said Cianci.
He wants the city to step in and give more support.
“You can’t pretend that homelessness doesn’t exist, people are being hurt and you have to be involved, and you have to be informed.”
As for the situation in the park, it wasn’t part of the plan to close it down.
“We never said the park would be closed down,” said City Manager Peter Wallace. “We were working with the police department to deal with the situation in the park but we were also trying to find a way to prevent violence there.”
Last month, the city said police were called to the park four times in four days for “concerns of a deteriorating public order.”
The department sent officers to the park and a number of other locations in the city.