[Hpn] Toronto City Council's on the hot seat over proposed sleeping ban

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Tue, 01 Feb 2005 19:46:19 -0500


http://www.pulse24.com/News/Top_Story/20050201-010/page.asp

Square Off

Things can get pretty noisy at Toronto City Hall, but councillors 
weren’t expecting this.

As the Mayor presided over debate on a bylaw designed to ban the 
homeless from sleeping at Nathan Phillips Square Tuesday afternoon, a 
loud clash broke out in the gallery.

It was the shouts from members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, 
who made their opposition to the idea clear.

They think the law discriminates against the homeless, and while they 
know they’re not likely to be able to stop the new prohibitions, they 
wanted to be sure local politicians knew about their displeasure.

Street nurse Cathy Crowe believes it simply isn’t necessary for the 
government to introduce this law now, when so many have nowhere to go.

“Do nothing right now,” she suggests. “Keep doing what they did in the 
winter, which was when they opened 110 Edward St., which was an 
emergency shelter. The numbers at City Hall dropped dramatically …

"There are already outreach workers working with folks that have very 
delicate, well-established relationships. They should still be given 
support to do their work.”

She complains there’s too much talk and not enough housing. “We did ask 
that more money be put into this proposal for new social housing ... 
[Of] the 1,000 units promised, only 500 are going to be affordable ... 
We don't want to see bylaws that will criminalize people for sleeping 
outside.”

The protest had at least one desired effect – it temporarily halted the 
work of Council. David Miller called a recess, as security officials 
tried to clear the chamber.

The demonstrators eventually left of their own accord, their message 
delivered and their mission accomplished.

Miller has vowed no one will be arrested if found sleeping in the 
Square, but that social workers will direct them to better places to sleep.

February 1, 2005


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