City of Toronto spent nearly $2M to clear 3 homeless encampments, repair parks

Click to play video: 'Questions about police tactics during Toronto park evictions'
Questions about police tactics during Toronto park evictions
WATCH ABOVE: (July 22) Following the second forcible eviction of a homeless encampment in Toronto, some are questioning the use of force by police. The mayor says the encampments are unsafe and unhealthy and have no place in parks, but advocates say the tactics used to remove them went too far. Matthew Bingley reports – Jul 22, 2021

The City of Toronto spent nearly $2 million to clear three homeless encampments and subsequently repair the parks, according to figures released by municipal officials Friday.

In a news release, the City indicated that costs to enforce trespass notices in Trinity Bellwoods Park, Alexandra Park, and Lamport Stadium Park totaled $840,127.

Officials said that included costs for policing and security, fire, paramedics, transportation services, waste management for debris removal, as well as “other operational costs,” including buses and personal protective equipment.

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Fencing was placed around the parks as officials worked to enforce trespass notices and after parks were cleared during remediation of the grounds.

The cost for fencing at the three parks totaled around $357,000, officials said. All fences have since been removed and the parks have reopened.

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Meanwhile, current landscaping costs for the parks is listed as $792,668.

“Full turf restoration will take more than one season,” the release said.

“Germinating seed will be applied in the fall and additional seeding will take place in spring and fall of 2022.”

The City said it issued trespass notices last April and again in June to those in encampments.

The orders were later enforced, sometimes resulting in violent scenes and arrests.

The City said the encampments are illegal and officials have cited the risk of fires and the need to make parks accessible to everyone as factors behind the encampment clearings.

Municipal officials said they have worked to refer people living in encampments to indoor spaces. Since the start of the pandemic, 835 people from four major encampments have been referred indoors.

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Nearly 6,640 people experiencing homelessness moved from shelters to permanent housing from April 2020 to August of this year, officials noted, while more than 1,898 people living in encampments have been referred to indoor spaces since April 2020.

Many who live in the camps, however, previously told Global News the shelters and hotels offered by the City of Toronto aren’t a desirable option in part due to the limit on belongings and the rules and curfews imposed as well as other safety-related issues.

The City said it’s investing $663.2 million in homelessness and housing solutions this year, compared to $365.8 million spent in 2019.

— With files from Nick Westoll


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