People in Midtown Toronto to hold protest against new homeless shelters this weekend
A number of Midtown Toronto residents are set to hold a rally this weekend to protest the new homeless shelters in the neighbourhood and the subsequent rise in crime.
Tensions have been high in the area since the city first opened three temporary housing programs to rehouse those experiencing homelessness in a safe way amid the pandemic, and residents have reportedly experienced an increase in thefts, break-ins, drug paraphernalia, and more as a result.
Some residents started a Facebook group as a way to discuss their complaints with fellow community members, and they're now organizing a rally for Saturday, Aug. 15, which they're calling "a crusade."
Well that's hypocritical! The Facebook Group devoted to protesting homeless shelters in Midtown wants its members to "respect" people in their discussions. They sure don't those without houses. Are they not people?https://t.co/XiQJTrtE6S— Sarah Sahagian (@sarahsahagian) August 12, 2020
"We're organizing a crusade to restore safety for residents of the area," reads the flyer being delivered to residents' doors advertising the rally.
"This is to be a family friendly, positive protest."
While the housing programs located at 55/65 Broadway Avenue are scheduled to close at the end of this month (the city says they're working to rehouse all residents), what was initially supposed to be a temporary program at the Roehampton Hotel has now been extended for at least two years, and possibly a third.
And though some residents have made it clear that they're not on board with this, others are firmly against the idea of protesting housing for the city's most vulnerable.
"Delivered to my door. I don't support this 'crusade,'" wrote one Midtown resident on Twitter along with a photo of the flyer.
"The money & time it took to print & hand deliver these flyers could have been donated to an organization that helps #homeless & #marginalized people in our city. Midtown Toronto please show some #compassion."
Delivered to my door. I don’t support this “crusade”. The money & time it took to print & hand deliver these flyers could have been donated to an organization that helps #homeless & #marginalized people in our city. Midtown Toronto please show some #compassion pic.twitter.com/PzMmqc6Hns— Amy Zimmer (@ameszimmer) August 13, 2020
City councillor for the area, Josh Matlow, said last week that he believes the city mismanaged the opening of these shelters as they failed to notify and consult the community in advance, but he also stated on Twitter Wednesday night that he does not agree with the impending protest.
"To those who've asked about these flyers- I strongly disagree with holding this rally in the midst of health, housing & opioid crises," he wrote.
"It won't improve safety or reflect well on our community. Let's not succumb to fear. Let's be kind & remain focused on addressing our challenges."
Our community is much much better than this group of uninformed folks. The language in this flier is offensive. I’m hopeful that this group of people will have an opportunity to reflect on the hate they are projecting and try, try to be kinder.— Joyce Rankin (@Joyce504941) August 13, 2020
In a statement published last week, the city said they're working on several measures to ensure safety concerns are addressed and dealt with, but they've also made it clear that the shelter isn't going anywhere and that residents need to learn to live with their new neighbours.
The city is set to hold an online community town hall on Wednesday, Aug. 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring a brief presentation on the Roehampton Hotel, an update on enhanced community supports and a question period for participants.
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