The warmer weather has brought with it a growth in the number of encampments all across the city. This problem is most notable in Allan Gardens, which has seen a surge in the number of tents on the premises.
While the encampment at Allan Gardens remains the largest in Toronto, it is important to note that the number of individuals actually living in the encampments has remained steady at about 60 individuals for the last month due to the efforts of city staff, community partners and my team. Though stable, the situation as it currently stands is unacceptable, and I want to assure all residents of my dedication to securing a swift and sustainable solution.
Progress Updates (By the Numbers):
- Earlier this year, I secured 50 additional shelter beds dedicated to individuals living in Allan Gardens. Unfortunately, the practice of avoiding outreach staff remains and individuals continue to refuse pathways to housing.
- Dedicated outreach staff have referred 123 individuals from the Allan Gardens encampment into the shelter system, and since August 2022, permanent housing has been secured for 34 people.
- City staff and community outreach partners are working 24/7 to connect the individuals in Allan Gardens with vital health and social services, indoor accommodations, and permanent housing options in an effort to reduce the encampment.
These numbers highlight both our success as well as the ongoing challenges staff face, and it is clear that efforts need to be redoubled to provide comprehensive support and housing solutions for those living in the park.
It remains our primary goal to ensure that Allan Gardens remains open and available for everyone's use and enjoyment while also providing assistance to those experiencing homelessness. To do this, we’ve also implemented the following:
- An Information & Help Centre on the south-east side of the park, which serves as a nexus for ongoing outreach efforts and as a resource for neighbors and community members to seek information and ask questions. Please note that the container will only remain in place while there is a significant need for onsite resources.
- The Allan Gardens Community Working Group, composed of partners in the housing and homelessness services sector, whose main objective is to find permanent housing and shelter options that meet the specific needs of individuals in the encampments.
- An Encampment Prevention Plan to limit further growth of the encampment, which provides new individuals experiencing homelessness with a referral to an available shelter space (off-site).
- Additional onsite services, including physical and mental health care, harm reduction initiatives such as education and safe supplies, social services like identification and income support, referrals to meal programs and indoor shelter spaces, daytime drop-in options, housing supports, and fire safety information.
I appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this process as we prioritize both the health and well-being of our residents as well as those currently experiencing homelessness in our community.
Yours in Service,