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Toronto looking at hiring private security at major parks to prevent encampments

Click to play video: 'Toronto considers 24 hour a day security at public parks' Toronto considers 24 hour a day security at public parks
WATCH: Toronto considers 24 hour a day security at public parks – May 12, 2022

The City of Toronto says it is looking for private security guards to patrol major parks to ensure the spaces remain fully accessible to all residents and prevent the large encampments seen in the past.

The key parks include Trinity Bellwoods Park, Lamport Stadium Park, Alexandra Park and Dufferin Grove with two mobile teams for Moss Park and Barbara Hall Park, officials said.

City staff have issued a request for proposals for the hiring of private security services. The RFP closes on May 30.

Read more: Toronto planned encampment clearing operation for months, built profiles of residents

The cost for the service will depend on when the contract is awarded, officials said.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, large encampments formed across parks in Toronto as homeless people said they felt the shelters weren’t safe and for fears of contracting the virus.

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Lamport Stadium and Trinity Bellwoods were both sites that saw many structures and tents. The city of Toronto was criticized for the tactics police officers used to clear the encampments.

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Chaos erupts again as Toronto officials, officers clear homeless encampment at Lamport Stadium – Jul 21, 2021

“The City also wants to prevent a repeat of large encampments being established that the city and many other cities across North America saw during the pandemic,” officials said in a news release.

“It is unsafe, illegal and unhealthy to camp in City parks.”

Read more: Toronto officials, police under fire for tactics used to clear homeless encampments

Officials said that if a contracted security guard sees a structure or tent being put up at a park, or if one is already in place, they will contact the city’s “Streets to Homes” teams to speak with the encampment occupants and offer services and safe indoor accommodation, officials said.

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Whichever security service is contracted will also be supported by the city’s corporate security staff.

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