This is why the fence from the Bellwoods encampment clearings is staying up
It's been exactly two weeks since police, city staffers and private security moved into Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park to enforce trespass notices to the 20 to 25 residents who had been temporarily living in the public green space, just one of numerous tent encampments that cropped up downtown during the pandemic.
And yet, the fences erected during the chaotic ordeal still remain up around the former encampment location, which now lies empty and still guarded by Star Security personnel.
Sunday July 4. Two weeks less 2 days since the paramilitary operation in Trinity it’s still fenced off (nothing going on inside currently) & guarded by dozens of private security guards + some cops. This is a scandal - everyone involved in this decision should lose their jobs. pic.twitter.com/3CaZN2OZYh— Three Geese Radius (@shawnmicallef) July 5, 2021
People of Toronto have certainly taken notice, and have been wondering why the blue barriers remain in the park, blocking a segment of it off from residents.
Many are also rightfully wondering about the cost — and purpose — of keeping security guards on the site 24/7, especially when there are parts of city infrastructure (in the park itself included) that could definitely use some funds and upkeep.
So, uh, who is paying for the 10+ security guys who are standing around the inside perimeter of that fence (that is containing nothing… unless you count these men) in Trinity Bellwoods? @JohnTory personally… or us tax payers? #toronto— Jessica Blaine Smith 📷 (@jbsmith) July 4, 2021
According to the city per the CBC, the enclosure at the park's southwest corner persists so that grass can grow back undisturbed, and will therefore stay for at least a few weeks more "while seeding takes hold."
"We have security guards there to ensure that people aren't trespassing or tearing the fencing down or anything like that. It's really as simple as that," a spokesperson told the news outlet, unable to yet cite the cost to taxpayers of keeping the area guarded.
That's cool about vaccines but why are there still fences and 24/7 security in Trinity-Bellwoods? How much money has been spent guarding this park from Torontonians and when will it be reopened?— nd.strthrs (@nedftw) July 5, 2021
Many are wondering, though, about the symbolic message being sent by the blockade, as well as where the city's priorities lie — perhaps in keeping homeless residents from returning to the space after what was an undeniably dramatic clash between officials and protestors during which a community garden was destroyed and multiple arrests were made.
Toronto Police and Mayor John Tory both said that the widely-criticized police presence on June 22 was in response to the massive turnout of protestors, who far outnumbered actual encampment residents, 14 of whom accepted support and housing offers (says the City, though the Encampment Support Network had originally stated all did).
🧵 With former #encampment sites fenced off indefinitely, @cityoftoronto is 'protecting' city parks as an owner of 'private property', not as a government regulating public space with legal obligations to #HumanRights and the #RightToHousing. https://t.co/53vyhauiHC— Diana Chan McNally (@Diana_C_McNally) June 30, 2021
"Our resources were adjusted throughout the day as more protestors travelled to the site for the purpose of interfering with the clearing of the encampment," Toronto Police Service wrote in a statement after-the-fact.
"Protestors out-numbered encampment residents, creating an increasingly unstable and unsafe environment for them and for City staff."
Tory, too, called most of those present that day "people who showed up and involved themselves who were not the people experiencing homelessness that we were trying to help," saying that they were just "trying to make a statement."
Some citizens are wondering whether the fences will be a more permanent fixture than temporary, seeing as the fencing installed to "restore" Moss Park have been up for around a year.
Others are encouraging people to complain about the ongoing presence of Star Security and the blue fence in the park to the city and park supervision.
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