Toronto is removing the homeless camp under the Gardiner
After months of debate over what should be done about the sprawling tent city beneath Toronto's Gardiner Expressway, City staffers are now starting to rid the area of "debris."
Crews were spotted under the busy raised roadway near Lakeshore Boulevard West and Lower Simcoe Street on Wednesday morning scooping up tents, blankets, cans, tarps, bike parts and other personal effects with a loading truck.
The homeless encampment had been dismantled by 12 p.m., according to The Star's Gilbert Ngabo.
HAPPENING NOW: City staff moved this morning to remove a makeshift homeless camp set up under the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto. This is at Lake Shore Blvd. W. near Lower Simcoe St. https://t.co/Gm0FK9Z7b4 pic.twitter.com/3komVvYxpg— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) March 13, 2019
Toronto's chief communications officer Brad Ross assured The Star that city workers would assist all of the camp's residents in finding somewhere to stay within the existing shelter system.
"We recognize that not all individuals are prepared to come inside, to engage with us," he said. "But we continue to work with them to provide whatever supports they may need."
The situation has become so dire in recent years that experts and advocates for people experiencing homelessness are asking the mayor to declare a state of emergency.
Imagine if you were part of this homeless community in Canada and @cityoftoronto, were standing near by and watching anything you own simply be bulldozed away! @JohnTory, we need to do better - not just you...province, country and citizens. This is Canada! #priorities— Tim McClure (@TimMcClure23) March 13, 2019
Some of those living under the Gardiner aren't convinced that the city can do much to help them, but they can't say they're surprised by the move.
Many were served notices back in January telling them that they had 14 days to remove their belongings and vacate the space, citing rule violations and safety concerns.
Fire teams respond to a burning mattress and tent in a homeless camp under the on-ramp to the Gardiner from York Street. I’m told the homeless commonly live inside the grid work under the ramp where it’s warm. No injuries, no arrests. @680NEWS pic.twitter.com/neMtzRAY6p— Mark Douglas (@Douglas680NEWS) October 23, 2018
"Toronto has invested a lot of funds, resources and staffing to try and manage the current situation," said Paul Raftis, the city's general manager of shelter, support and housing, at the time.
He noted that, while clients may not get a spot immediately or in a location of their choosing, "generally there are emergency shelter beds available."
Only one camp was taken down today, according to the city, but others remain in the area for now and continue to be serviced by street outreach programs.
Join the conversation Load comments