City of Toronto crews dismantle Rosedale Valley homeless encampment despite pushback

Homeless couple evicted from makeshift home under Toronto bridge
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Toronto has dismantled homeless encampments in the Rosedale Ravine area. Dozens of homeless men and women called that ravine home. Morganne Campbell speaks with a couple who have lived under the Sherbourne bridge for nearly eight months.

City of Toronto staff descended upon Rosedale Valley Road to dismantle homeless encampments Tuesday morning, despite the pleas of anti-poverty advocates.

The City said it gave ample notice to the 15 individuals living in the ravine and offered assistance in finding shelter space for those dislocated. All but one left the camp.

Frenchie, a 28-year-old who had been living in the encampment, said he and others will return once police and city staff have left, as they have in previous years when they were evicted from the area.

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“Shelters [are] not a good idea. It’s very bad, it’s dangerous, it’s drugs… violence. Bedbugs as well. It’s more safe under the bridge,” Frenchie said, adding that the number of people living in the temporary camp is closer to 50.

Homeless advocates protesting the dismantling echoed Frenchie’s statements. Yogi Acharya with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty said shelter conditions are poor and suffer from problems such as broken bathrooms and lack of hot water.

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Toronto clears homeless encampment near Rosedale Valley Road
Toronto clears homeless encampment near Rosedale Valley Road

“People are being displaced from the only place they have to survive these brutal winters,” Acharya said.

“The city shelter system remains packed full, the housing options are non-existent for people… So under these circumstances, what are people supposed to do besides find places of relative safety?”

Mayor John Tory said Monday he stands by the decision to clear out the encampments and expressed concern over the health and safety of those living in them.

“It’s not safe, it’s not appropriate to have them living in encampments in the city,” said Tory. “There is lots of notice given and I can tell you right now there is places set aside right now in shelters adequate to house all of those dislocated by the dismantling of the encampment.”

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Hidden video shows footage inside one of Toronto’s 24-hour respite centres
Hidden video shows footage inside one of Toronto’s 24-hour respite centres

— With files from Kamil Karamali