City of Toronto staff got to work early on Wednesday morning. Staffers cleared out a makeshift homeless camp beneath the Gardiner Expressway in mere hours.
According to the Toronto Star, the action was taken after eviction notices were sent to homeless residents occupying the area in January.
A handful of city workers and a city truck cleared away all remnants of the camp including bikes, blankets, boxes and bags.
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
City of Toronto Chief Communications Officer, Brad Ross, told CBC the area was cleared over fire, injury and death concerns.
According to Ross, occupants were given eviction notices in January stating they had 14 days to vacate the area.
The city held off on clearing the area on account of the weather, revealing that they intentionally waited for the weather to “warm up a bit.”
Ross also told The Star that city staff will continue to help the former camp occupants find temporary housing in the city’s shelter system.
“We recognize that not all individuals are prepared to come inside, to engage with us,” Ross said. “But we continue to work with them to provide whatever supports they may need.”
With severe bed shortages and capacity issues at most city shelters, the offer of assistance is a lot easier said than done. Instead of shelter, Ross says the city’s Streets to Home program will also help those affected obtain identification and possibly even employment.
The area cleared on Wednesday was just one of the camps set up in the underpass. Eviction notices have also been sent to the following encampments:
- west side of Yonge St. and Dundas St. W
- Queen St. E. and Victoria St.
- Lower Simcoe St. bridge
- west side of Bay St. and south of King St. W.
- Roncesvalles Ave., Queen St. W. and King St. W.
- Gardiner Expressway and Spadina Ave.