December 10, 2020
Attention: John Tory, Mayor, City of Toronto; Mary-Anne Bedard, General Manager Shelter Support & Housing Administration, City of Toronto; Janie Romoff, General Manager Parks, Forestry, and Recreation Department, City of Toronto; Toronto City Councillors
We are writing in support of our unhoused neighbours that are facing eviction due to the City’s policies on encampments. We are calling on the City of Toronto to declare a moratorium on encampment evictions and to work with service providers to ensure that everyone has access to safe and dignified housing.
All people have a right to be a part of our city. The geography of survival has become even more precarious since the onset of the pandemic, where shelters are no longer a band-aid solution for decades of government inaction and disinvestment in affordable and supportive housing.
Encampments are the safest option for many unhoused residents and provides a sense of community for people who don’t have access to many other supports. The Toronto Public Space Committee is against the removal of people in our shared, common spaces who are merely trying to survive. Evicting people against their will is destructive, harmful, and traumatizing. We stand against policies and actions that make life for people experiencing homelessness intolerable. We especially disagree with the City’s course of action in threatening Khaleel Seivwright with legal action for installing tiny shelters on public space.
In addition to immediately stopping these evictions and allowing temporary shelters to stay in place, the City of Toronto should provide encampment residents with basic survival gear and access to sanitation. Recommendations of the Faulkner inquest call on the city to provide survival gear, like fire safety, to people in encampments. Although city councillors voted in favour of giving out survival gear on October 28, 2020, the ESN reports they have yet to see city workers do this on the ground. The city should also open up recreation centres and public washrooms 24/7 for encampment residents to use this winter.
The TPSC supports the work of the Encampment Support Network (ESN) and countless other volunteers and advocates working to end homelessness and the conditions that create it. Let us work together to ensure that no one is left out in the cold.
Toronto Public Space Committee