Allan Gardens March Encampment Update

As spring arrives, it's impossible not to reflect back a year to the escalating situation at Allan Gardens. Remembering the challenges, but also the resilience of our community, allows us to move forward with hope and determination.

As spring arrives, it's impossible not to reflect back a year to the escalating situation at Allan Gardens. Remembering the challenges, but also the resilience of our community, allows us to move forward with hope and determination. Allan Gardens is no longer the largest encampment in the city, a feat which required incredible effort. While there has been considerable progress, we must continue to work towards creating more sustainable and long-term solutions for our city's unhoused population.

Last spring, City staff faced the challenging task of containing a growing encampment in Allan Gardens. Due to a lack of dedicated resources at that time, staff were unable to keep up with the demand for indoor shelter in the park. 

I believe encampments are neither safe nor a housing solution. Every person deserves a real home, and that's why I am committed to helping the most vulnerable find the path to one.To this end, I convened the Allan Gardens Task Force to accelerate the timeline to move encampment residents into safe, indoor spaces.

The Allan Gardens Task Force is comprised of City divisions including Toronto Shelter and Support Services and Parks Forestry and Recreation, as well as Toronto Police Services. Working closely with community agency partners like Native Men’s Residence, Saint Luke's United Church and Dixon Hall, the task force dedicated countless hours on-site, making sure campers received the housing support they needed to move into permanent housing. This initiative also included considerable investments in safety and security measures and an encampment office trailer for city housing workers to operate from.

This work resulted in 95 encampment residents in Allan Gardens receiving permanent housing over the past year. Although emergency shelter beds serve a vital function in our city, they are only a band-aid solution to our growing housing crisis. This is why efforts in Allan Gardens focused on ensuring vulnerable members of our community recieve permanent housing solutions. 

From the height of 89 encampment tents last summer, only five tents remain in Allan Gardens. City staff continue to work to develop housing plans for the remaining encampment residents. New tents can–and will–crop up occasionally, especially as the weather warms up. But thanks to the dedicated resources, new occupants should be quickly serviced and their structures removed, helping individuals transition to safer, indoor accommodations.

To get the latest statistics of encampments in Allan Gardens stats, please check out the encampment dashboard on my website.

If you spot someone in an encampment who may be struggling, don't hesitate to call 311. By doing so, you're helping connect them to the housing support they may need.  

In order to truly end the housing crisis in Toronto, it is important for all levels of government to come together and create more affordable housing. I urgently call on my provincial and federal counterparts to acknowledge the severity of this crisis by helping the City create safe and deeply affordable housing, including supportive housing, to end homelessness.

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Over the past year, we have seen a rise in Rental Demolition & Replacement applications at the City of Toronto, and in particular in Toronto Centre. Hearing that an application has been submitted for your home to be demolished and replaced is extremely stressful.

The City of Toronto recognizes that protecting the existing rental housing stock is incredibly important to ensure renting is an attainable housing option for residents, especially seniors, students and families.

Unfortunately, the City cannot refuse a development application on the basis of hardship to existing tenants under Provincial law. While there are tenant protections under the Residential Tenancies Act, the City felt they were inadequate to deal with the magnitude of rental housing stock under threat in Toronto. As such, the City created protections in the City’s Official Plan under our Housing policies and as permitted within the confines of the City of Toronto Act (Section 111).

Join me on Monday, April 15 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Wellesley Community Centre to learn more about our Rental Demolition & Replacement process from City Staff, how our policy has evolved over time, steps I've taken to address the gaps in the Tenant Assistance and Relocation Package secured by the City, what advocacy is being done at the provincial level by our MPP Wong-Tam, and what your rights are as a tenant.

Feel free to join us online! Click on the following link to join the event and ask questions:

Community Cleanups

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The City of Toronto’s annual spring cleanup of parks and public spaces returns Friday, April 19 to Monday, April 22 (Earth Day).

Since 2004, the City of Toronto has held city-wide spring cleanup weekends. This year marks the 19th year of Clean Toronto Together, the largest municipal cleanup event in Canada. 

On Saturday, April 20 you can join me and my team and  The Friends of Regent Park at the bake oven in Regent Park to clean the park, as we will be providing garbage bags and gloves for a community wide park clean up! 

(St. James Town Clean Green 2023)

If you are a concerned resident, member of the community or a community organization who is interested in helping clean your local park, ravine, sports field or trail, register your team at the Clean Toronto Together website. You can also contact our office to request and pick up clear garbage bags and nitrile gloves. Help your community sparkle this Earth Day!

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