Clarence Square Park in downtown Toronto is, simply put, a disgusting disgrace.
This parkette is now occupied by a homeless encampment that continues to grow. It makes one wonder if the people who purchased pricey condos in this area are suffering from buyer’s remorse. They might also be wondering why they’re paying taxes given that the City of Toronto seems to be doing absolutely nothing to address this festering situation.
Indeed, last summer, a new benchmark vis-a-vis hobo entitlement took place here. As reported in the Toronto Sun: “A work crew at Clarence Square Park — a little parkette at Wellington St. and Spadina Ave. — said they have been installing new water mains to replace crumbling infrastructure for the past few weeks. Two of the workers said a few of the residents of the enclosures in the encampment have come over to voice their displeasure with the workers — for doing their jobs — and become violent and confrontational to the point they had to call police so they could complete their work.”
Can you believe it? Presumably the noise from the construction equipment was disturbing the sleep of the squatters. And so it was that hardworking men fixing the city's infrastructure had to endure harassment by hobos who typically like to rise and shine at the crack of noon.
We reached out to the City of Toronto to find out why this encampment is being tolerated. This is the statement the city sent our way:
"The City responds to encampments by using the skill sets, tools, relationships and authorities of multiple City divisions and community partners to respond to the complex health and safety risks in and around encampments, facilitate access to inside spaces, removal of waste and debris, and ensure shared-use spaces are accessible to all. The City of Toronto contracts park security who support community safety, specifically around encampments. A team is currently stationed at Clarence Square Park 24/7 to report any emergencies to 9-1-1 and new encampments to City staff so that outreach teams can provide support. Streets to Homes outreach staff and community partners visit various sites daily, focused on building trusting relationships with encampment occupants, to help address immediate health and safety needs, assist with referrals to space in the shelter system and connect people to supports and permanent housing. Across the city’s encampments, the majority of tent reductions are a direct result of City and community partner outreach efforts as encampment occupants move to the shelter system or permanent supportive housing. From January 1, 2023 to December 20, 2023, outreach staff referred approximately 1,477 individuals living outside into the shelter system. Of these, 841 people were from encampments. During the same timeframe, the City and its partners also worked to help 208 people living outside secure permanent housing with 93 from encampments. All members of the community are welcome to use the City’s parks but living in an encampment is a violation of City Bylaws. Any decision to initiate a trespass enforcement begins only after outreach and engagement efforts, including referrals to inside space, have been unsuccessful."
But the question arises: could it be that this lack of action on behalf of the city is due to a recent court decision?
Last January, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Valente rejected a request for an injunction to dismantle a tent city in Kitchener, Ont., because there wasn’t enough shelter spaces available for drug users or couples.
Essentially, Justice Valente ruled that the Regional Municipality of Waterloo could not enforce places laws pertaining to trespassing and public safety. It remains a ludicrous decision. But then again, Justice Valente has no skin in the game. HE doesn’t live next to a filthy homeless encampment.
Bottom line: expect Toronto to continue its downward spiral. There is simply no political will to do the right thing. And the judicial system seems more concerned with social justice as opposed to upholding the rule of law. So it is that it should come as no surprise that Hogtown will continue to resemble San Francisco North in the bitter days ahead…