CSAR
Consolidation for Social Awareness and Responsibility
Advocate for the Homeless
"We are awareWe do care." 
Rev04/2000
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UPDATE: from August 1999 to mid December 2001the demonstration (sponsored by the Students at UofToronto) persisted.  Currently, several lawsuits with the activists as plaintiffs and the police officials as defendants are ongoing.  Check the related websites sponsored by University of Toronto students at the bottom of this page for more details.

Chronology of the Allan Gardens Saga
(Allan Gardens is a park about 1 city block square, in the heart of downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.)

Calls to Action:

FlashBacks Table of Contents - Media coverage of Allan Gardens initiative:

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Subject: Homeless sleep at Metro Hall
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999 12:26:13 -0400
From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
To: act-cuts-ont-l@list.web.net

http://www.thestar.com/editorial/news/990606NEW01_CI-HOME6.html
                                June 6, 1999

Homeless set to stay put in 20-cot committee room

                      By Kevin Donovan and Lily Nguyen  [Image]                 Toronto Star Staff Reporters
 

  And if that inconveniences the politicians, he said, that's just too bad.

  ``Metro Hall may well become a permanent shelter,'' said Jagt, who took the unusual step Friday of turning Metro Hall into Metro Hostel, accommodating   20 people in a  committee room normally used by politicians and city bureaucrats. Other homeless people were bused out to shelters as spaces became available. Last night, 20 cots were set up in the committee room and busing continued.

  ``If they kick them out, they can kick me out with it. I'll resign,'' said Jagt, who has been with the city's shelter program for 25 years.

  ``We cannot do this to people. We cannot throw them out and say you have overstayed your welcome here, too.''

  He warned Toronto's homelessness crisis is about to become even worse:

    * On June 15, Council Fire, a 100-bed seasonal shelter on Parliament St., closes for the summer.

    * In July, the 571-bed Seaton House goes under construction for badly needed renovations to its 40-year old structure.  The project, Jagt noted, will close half the shelter's beds over the next 18 months. That's a loss of 285 permanent beds while renovations continue.

  Jagt said he had no choice but to arrange for a homeless shelter in the ground-floor City Room at Metro Hall after plans to move 150 people - who had been staying at the Fort York Armouries - into a warehouse facility on Lake Shore Blvd. fell apartFriday.

  ``It's a crisis that is now on our doorstep,'' he said.

  ``This is the first time in my memory that we at the city have failed to meet our mandate to serve all the homeless. We have always found enough space in the past. We never had a point where we had too many people that we could not serve them. Until now.''

  Jagt blamed the warehouse fiasco on the landlord, who he said reneged on the deal.  Lawyers for both sides are now arguing over the issue, but a spokesperson for the realtor involved in the aborted deal said there was no signed lease and the city had yet to put up any money to rent the site.

  Meanwhile, the crisis continues to grow.

  Mayor Mel Lastman, fresh from a national conference of municipal leaders discussing homelessness, yesterday renewed demands for Ottawa to take a leadership role.

  Real estate developers are ready to build affordable housing to ease the problem if the federal government would only provide financial incentives, Lastman said.

  ``Show me the money!'' he said in an interview. ``Look, we can get private developers to build them. What I am saying is offer some incentives.''

  Lastman wants Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government to give developers a waiver on the GST on building materials - a savings of 7 per cent - when they erect apartment buildings. In return, Lastman said, developers would guarantee to turn 20 per cent of the new units into affordable housing.

  Lastman's demands go hand in glove with an earlier promise by Premier Mike Harris' provincial government, which said it would waive the PST - an 8 per cent savings - on building materials if a developer's project included affordable housing.

``This is crazy, this is insanity,'' Lastman said of Ottawa's refusal, so far, to act on requests that he and other municipal leaders have made.

  If Ottawa ``thinks housing and the homeless is not their responsibility, they are out of their minds,'' he said.

  On Friday night, Jagt scrambled to billet some of the Fort York 150 at other shelters and some at Metro Hall - which was originally set up as a temporary soup kitchen, not a hostel.

  Yesterday, scores of Toronto's homeless gathered in a courtyard at Metro Hall.

  Among them were Monica McKillop and Michael Robinson, who have been common-law husband and wife for four years. After their landlord evicted them four months ago, tossing their belongings on to the lawn, they began staying at the Fort York Armouries.

  But Friday's closing put them out on the street again.

  That left them - like the other 150 homeless people who looked to the armouries as a place of refuge at night - searching for somewhere else to go. At the last moment, they found shelter with friends.

  The problem for McKillop and Robinson, like many others, is that they want to remain together.

  As McKillop talked, a silver ring glinted as she twisted it nervously on her finger.  It was a recent gift from her husband, she said, showing it off proudly.

  ``We'd rather stay outside than get split up,'' McKillop said. ``It's the most important thing in the world.''

  City shelter officials said they're doing everything possible to move the homeless from Metro Hall to other shelter facilities, and last night, as volunteers appeared to call out possible spaces for the night, McKillop twisted anxiously in her chair.

``Are we going to go together? Are we going to go together?'' she asked repeatedly.

  The couple, like others in their situation, may have a hard time finding a place, Jagt said. ``I can't predict where they'll go. It may have to be a tent in a park.''

  Jagt noted that families now face a 17-year wait to get a spot into assisted housing in Toronto.

  ``If you have a baby and you are a single mother and struggling, the baby will be grown up by the time you get into social housing,'' Jagt said.

  Because of the lack of beds here, he said, the city's hostel service will have to send 1,000 people to housing outside of Toronto, adding to the 400 people who are being housed in motels outside of the city.

  ``These are incredibly difficult times,'' Jagt said. ``We are doing what we can.''
 

            Contents copyright © 1996-1999, The Toronto Star.
 
 
 

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
   .............................................

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Subject: (fwd) RE: OCAP'S SAFE PARK FOR THE HOMELESS
     Date:Tue, 08 Jun 1999 22:49:05 -0400
     From: Graeme Bacque <gbacque@idirect.com>
 Reply-To: homeless@csf.colorado.edu
       To: HOMELESS DISCUSSION LIST <homeless@csf.colorado.edu>
 ---------forwarded message---------

June 8, 1999

    On June 17, OCAP will be making a presentation before the Community and Neighborhoods Committee of Toronto City Council. We will be calling for our plans to create a safe park for homeless people in Toronto this Summer to be endorsed and supported by the City.

    The need for a safe park flows from an unheard of homeless crisis that has filled all available hostel space to overflowing. It also is urgently required in light of a massive police drive to force homeless people out of the parks and the central area of the City. This 'social cleansing' is being conducted to clear the way for commercial and upscale housing development that is changing the face of Toronto along the lines of New York City.

    Clearly, members of Council and senior City bureaucrats will resist our plans. Already, the head of Parks and Rec has stated that he will deal with the safe park as a police matter. For just this reason, we need maximum support. Please send letters supporting the OCAP safe park to Community and Neighborhood Services Committee c/o Roz Dyers at fax # (416) 392-2980

Thanks,

ONTARIO COALITION AGAINST POVERTY
(416) 925-6939
<ocap@tao.ca>

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: OCAP "Safe Park" August 7, Toronto
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 13:10:45 -0400
From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
To: faxleft@echo-on.net

    On August 7th, OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) will set up a 'safe park' for the homeless in central Toronto.
 

Homeless struggle in Toronto (appeal for help)

Sent Jun 26, 1999
From: johnclarke@sprint.ca (debra phelps)
 

Comrades,

     The situation facing the homeless in Toronto is at a level of very serious crisis. In a quite unheard of situation, the emergency shelters are utterly full during the summer. On March 24, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) that I'm part of invaded a meeting of City Council in an attempt to have them reverse a decision to close 600 'winter' beds for the homeless. We did not win this demand but they undertook at the time to open new shelters whenever capacity went over 90%. At this point, they admit that that strategy is in shambles. With the policies of the Conservative Ontario Government increasing in their impact, 5,000 people a month are being evicted in Toronto at the moment and the City has even been forced to start using rooms in Metro (City) Hall as places for the homeless to sleep in.

     At the same time as this acute lack of even emergency shelter is taking its toll, there is a concerted drive to push the homeless (and poor tenants) out to the fringes of the City. Zoning restrictions are being used to block low income housing and close rooming houses and 'batchelorettes'. Such shelter space as they are looking to open is being selected on the basis of its being away from the central area. They are even reported to be looking at putting up huge inflatable
tennis court 'bubbles' down on some of the toxic wasteground down by Lake Ontario to the south of the City.

     To enforce the driving out of the poor and homeless (a process that some are calling 'social cleansing'), the Police are engaged in a reign of terror at the moment. People who are caught asking for spare change in any of the central business/tourist areas are being moved on and often roughed up. Those who try to sleep in the parks are being driven out relentlessly. It's become so bad that many homeless people are grabbing sleep in alleyways and on benches during the day and then moving about at night to avoid the police.

     OCAP is resisting this attack. I won't go into detail on the fights we're involved in since I can respond individually to anyone who wants more information. What I want to mention here is that, on August 7th, we're going to set up a 'safe park' in central Toronto. It will be a place of safety and solidarity for the homeless where people can live in safety without police violence and harassment. We are getting a thunderous response from the homeless and a huge range of organizations will be providing tents, equipment, medical services and food. The opening day will see a strong contingent of supporters from the Mohawk Nation come up to stand with us and provide us with a huge fish fry. The Canadian Auto Workers and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will also have contingents on hand.

     We will set up our safe park over the objections of the authorities and will rely, first of all, on previously expressed support to make a police attack politically problematic. We will also launch it with a very big mobilization of support and be ready to stand our ground. I am asking all those on this network to work to get messages of support for the Safe Park to us so that we can make them public prior to the day we set up. This will be of great help in showing that Toronto's homeless have their supporters in trade unions and other working class organizations in other parts of the world. Please addess messages to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and send them to my E-mail address.

johnclarke@sprint.ca (debra phelps)
Thanks- John Clarke
OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty)
 

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Subject: Please support the Safe Park. Please distribute.
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 07:48:44 -0700
 

Please address a message of support for the Homeless Safe Park  to OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) and send them to

johnclarke@sprint.ca (debra phelps)
<><><><><>
<><><><><><>
<><><><><><><>

Example, (feel free to forward this entire message or cut and paste the following )

To: johnclarke@sprint.ca (debra phelps)

WE SUPPORT THE CREATION OF A SAFE PARK FOR THE HOMELESS.

<><><><><><><>
<><><><><><>
<><><><><>

Background

  On August 7th, OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) will set up a 'safe park' for the homeless in central Toronto.
 

Homeless struggle in Toronto (appeal for help)

Sent Jun 26, 1999
From: johnclarke@sprint.ca (debra phelps)
 

Comrades,

     The situation facing the homeless in Toronto is at a level of very serious crisis. In a quite unheard of situation, the emergency shelters are utterly full during the summer. On March 24, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) that I'm part of invaded a meeting of City Council in an attempt to have them reverse a decision to close 600 'winter' beds for the homeless. We did not win this demand but they undertook at the time to open new shelters whenever capacity went over 90%. At this point, they admit that that strategy is in shambles. With the policies of the Conservative Ontario Government increasing in their impact, 5,000 people a month are being evicted in Toronto at the moment and the City has even been forced to start using rooms in Metro (City)
Hall as places for the homeless to sleep in.

     At the same time as this acute lack of even emergency shelter is taking its toll, there is a concerted drive to push the homeless (and poor tenants) out to the fringes of the City. Zoning restrictions are being used to block low income housing and close rooming houses and 'batchelorettes'. Such shelter space as they are looking to open is being selected on the basis of its being away from the central area. They are even reported to be looking at putting up huge inflatable
tennis court 'bubbles' down on some of the toxic waste ground down by Lake Ontario to the south of the City.

     To enforce the driving out of the poor and homeless (a process that some are calling 'social cleansing'), the Police are engaged in a reign of terror at the moment. People who are caught asking for spare change in any of the central business/tourist areas are being moved on and often roughed up. Those who try to sleep in the parks are being driven out relentlessly. It's become so bad that many homeless people are grabbing sleep in alleyways and on benches during the day and then moving about at night to avoid the police.

     OCAP is resisting this attack. I won't go into detail on the fights we're involved in since I can respond individually to anyone who wants more information. What I want to mention here is that, on August 7th, we're going to set up a 'safe park' in central Toronto. It will be a place of safety and solidarity for the homeless where people can live in safety without police violence and harassment. We are getting a thunderous response from the homeless and a huge range of
organizations will be providing tents, equipment, medical services and food. The opening day will see a strong contingent of supporters from the Mohawk Nation come up to stand with us and provide us with a huge fish fry. The Canadian Auto Workers and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will also have contingents on hand.

     We will set up our safe park over the objections of the authorities and will rely, first of all, on previously expressed support to make a police attack politically problematic. We will also launch it with a very big mobilization of support and be ready to stand our ground. I am asking all those on this network to work to get messages of support for the Safe Park to us so that we can make them public prior to the day we set up. This will be of great help in showing that Toronto's homeless have their supporters in trade unions and other working class organizations in other parts of the world. Please address messages to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and send them to my E-mail address.

johnclarke@sprint.ca (debra phelps)
Thanks- John Clarke
OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty)
 
 

<><><><><><><>
Subject: Please support the Safe Park. Please distribute.
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 07:48:44 -0700
 
 
 

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----------original message----------
OCAP 'SAFE PARK' TO BE SET UP

Allan Gardens ( Sherbourne and Gerrard) Saturday, August 7 at 4.00 PM

     The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) is putting up a Safe Park for Toronto's homeless in Allan Gardens on August 7. It will be established and defended as a place of safety and solidarity.

     Our action flows from a two-pronged attack that the homeless face. On the one hand, there is a desperate lack of even emergency shelter space. At the same time, however, that people are being forced onto the streets in record numbers, the cops are engaged in an all out drive to force the homeless out of the Central part of the City. Those who try to lay down in parks are being harassed, having their belongs confiscated, getting hit wlth bogus charges and being driven off by a heavy handed police crackdown, This drive is being undertaken to serve and protect business interests and yappie 'residents' associations and at the urging of local politicians, like Kyle Rae, who hate and fear the homeless.

     Our Safe Park wil> 


Transfer interrupted!

g community of homeless people who refuse to be driven out and who organize together around the demand for affordable housing and other real solutions to the homeless crisis.

     We urge all who stand in solidarity with the homeless to actively support our Safe Park. We need food, tarpaulins, mats and other equipment as well as cash donations. We would also greatly appreciate letters of support that we can show the political decision makers, who might be tempted to order in the cops, that we do not stand alone. Especially as we set up on August 7, we will need every available supporter on hand.

     We call on all homeless people in Toronto to be pan of this action. We invite all who can come to this City from elsewhere to join us as well. We are taking a stand against the National Disaster of homelessness and against attacks on the homeless that are going on from coast to coast.

     On August 7, homelessness will not be hidden and the homeless will not be silenced. They will be standing up and fighting back. Please be there!

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Phone: (416) 925-6939 <johnclarke@sprint.ca>

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Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 13:13:18 -0400
From: Cathy Crowe <crowe@pop.web.net>
Subject: An appeal

Sunday, August 1, 1999

An Open Letter to faith groups and members of the academic community:

     I appeal to you to support the Safe Park in Allen Gardens that will be set up at 4 pm August 7 for homeless people in the City of Toronto by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and to speak out against TARGET POLICING.

     I also invite you to physically be at the park the afternoon of set up. Your physical presence may serve as a means to protect and support people.  If you can bring something - water, cold drinks or fruit would be appreciated. For information on other ways to help contact Ontario Coalition Against Poverty at (416) 925-6939.

Why am I writing you?

     Communities of faith and higher learning have served as both witness to injustice and been an active voice and participant in various movements to seek social justice around the world.

     In particular, when oppressive governments have used the strong arm of policing bodies to fulfill their goals, and when death and injury have resulted, members of faith and academic communities have spoken out.  In the words of Michael Czerny, a Jesuit priest who replaced one of the Jesuit priests in Central America brutally murdered in 1989:  "Our commitment as a university community is to the truth, our commitment as priests and as a Christian community is to the people and the political chips will fall where they may."

     The inherent right to life for homeless people in Canada is not being protected by our governments.

     In its submission to the United Nations titled "Death on the streets of Canada"  the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee wrote: The government of Canada's actions and lack of action leading to, and failing to prevent, morbidity and death, violates the moral and ethical codes of the nation's religions, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and federal and provincial human rights codes.

     The Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto recently wrote both Mayor Lastman and David Boothby, Chief of Police. In their letter to Boothby they
write:

"We urge you and your department to cease and desist from the policy of social cleansing and to refrain from obstructing the creation of a place of safety for people who due to poverty, illness or other calamities, have no place to call home. May you heed the call to compassion and extend your protection to each and every citizen and not just to those who enjoy wealth, privilege, and social standing."

     In a public letter to NOW magazine this week, nurses Kathy Hardill and Alicia Odette write: "We represent a group of nurses who have been working with homeless men, women and kids for over a decade. We have witnessed police confiscation of precious pieces of identification. We have watched as weary people are moved along from places of refuge in parks. We have tended to police-inflicted wounds."

     I can personally attest to the need for a safe park and also the danger target policing practices pose to homeless people in this city.

     To express your views please write Mayor Lastman, Chief Boothby, newspapers and please, if you can please be there.

     To offer a donation to assist with the park contact OCAP at (416) 925-6939.

In solidarity,
 
 

Cathy Crowe, RN

Housing for all - mark October 2 in your calendar!

Cathy Crowe, RN
crowe@web.net
 

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<><><><><><><><> 7.Click here to help the children
Date:    Thu, 5 Aug 1999 10:51:36 PDT
From:    Blazing Star <sananda@hotmail.com>
Subject: Toronto: showdown at Allan Gardens

August 5, 1999

Park takeover could be lengthy, activists predict

Mayor vows unruly protest by homeless won't be tolerated

By John Spears and Rebecca Bragg
Toronto Star City Hall Bureau

     An occupation of Allan Gardens by homeless people and anti-poverty activists, set to begin Saturday, could go on for weeks, organizers say.

     But Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman says if the protest organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty continues past Sunday, the demonstrators will
be cleared out by police.

     ``They want to keep it until November, but it´s not in the cards,´´ Lastman told reporters yesterday after a walkabout in Bloor West Village. ``We don´t want them there and they shouldn´t be there.´´  Coalition spokesperson John Clarke said the demonstration could last much longer.

     How long ``depends on what the city does in terms of both provision of hostel space and also police harassment of the homeless,´´ he said. ``If it goes on for a lengthy period, ultimately we run into cold weather.´´

     Yesterday Clarke met with staff from Lastman's office, the city parks department and Toronto police to discuss the event, to be held in the park at Carlton and Jarvis Sts.

     ``They were most clear this is unsanctioned and certainly not approved of,´´ Clarke said, arguing that the meeting itself indicated at least tacit acceptance of the protest.

     That's not true, Lastman said.

    ``We are not giving our seal of approval. We are saying, `You can´t do it and you shouldn´t be doing it,´ but we know they´re going to be doing it and will be there with 300 to 500 people, and I don´t want violence.´´

     Sergeant Dave Brown of 51 Division said the city has ``given the okay to go ahead and set up there, so we´re not going to be removing them or anything like that.

     ``If they start destroying property or anything, it´s a totally different story,´´ he said, adding the police aren´t expecting problems.

     Clarke wouldn't say whether the demonstrators will take over all of the park or just part of it. `We don´t want them there and they shouldn´t be there´

     Asked whether the city intends to install portable toilets for use by the demonstrators, Lastman replied, ``We don´t put in toilets in parks for
people. If they have to use the washroom, they´re supposed to go home.

     ``We don´t have parks for people to sleep in and use as toilets and throw their needles and used condoms.´´

     Lisa Stephens Immen, who chairs the Neighbourhood's Forum, a council of residents' associations, business groups and community agencies, expressed deep reservations about the planned occupation.

     She said downtown residents fought a long and successful battle to clear Allan Gardens of drug dealers and criminals, making the park safer for
the homeless and residents.

     OCAP's objective ``is a political one. Their purpose in being at the park is to create a disturbance to provoke some kind of police action against them that will look good in the media,´´ she said.

     With files from Ariel Teplitsky

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<><><><><><><><> 8.Click here to help the children
Date:    Tue, 10 Aug 1999 08:28:03 PDT
From:    Blazing Star <sananda@hotmail.com>
Subject: Toronto: tent city still up at Allan Gardens

August 10, 1999

Protesters `still here´ on third day of park sit-in

City officials, police watch as bylaws flouted

By Joel Bagloleand Caroline Mallan
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

     Homeless protesters were claiming the upper hand late last night in the continuing standoff at Allan Gardens.

     ``We´re still here,´´ said Gaetan Heroux, a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which has been running the designated ``safe park´´ for Toronto´s homeless community and its supporters since Saturday afternoon.

     ``Mayor Mel (Lastman) seems to have backed off a bit. He said the police would move us out before the weekend was over. Well, the weekend is
over, and we´re still here standing our ground.´´

     A constant presence of about 50 homeless people and social protesters kept vigil inside the impromptu tent city, which organizers continue to keep sectioned off with yellow police tape.

     An equal number of people left the park for the day but returned in the evening to dine for the second time on chili and vegetables.

     ``People have to panhandle during the day to make some money and take care of other business,´´ Heroux said. ``If this peters out on its own, then
it peters out on its own. We´ll assess that at the time, and people will go other places, I guess.´´

     Despite the protesters' boast, city officials and police remain on alert, ready to dismantle the safe park at Sherbourne and Carlton Sts. at a
moment's notice.

     ``We´ll have a contingent of officers move in right away if I see anything that I deem to be inappropriate or going too far,´´ said Paul Ronan, a
manager with the city´s parks department, who has been at Allan Gardens for the past three days.

     Ronan said he continues to keep a tally of bylaw infractions taking place in the park: beer drinking, operating barbecues without a permit, nailing
hammocks to trees and trying to corner off the safe park area with snow fencing. As well, several small fist fights have broken out among squeegee kids huddled with the protesters, a mentally disabled man defecated on the grass and a couple was seen copulating in a sleeping bag.

     John Jagt, director of Toronto's Hostel Services, was at the park yesterday. He said the coalition, rather than helping the city's estimated 26,000
homeless people, is making the situation worse.

     ``This is another OCAP stunt. . . . And even if this is to underscore the need for more beds, this isn´t the way to do it.´´

     Van available to take homeless to shelters Jagt said the biggest obstacle to erecting more shelters across Greater Toronto is community resistance. And, he said, seeing the drinking and littering and other activities taking place in the park isn't helping warm taxpayers to the idea of a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood.

     Hostel services has kept a van and four staff members at Allan Gardens to drive people to nearby shelters. No one has taken advantage of the
offer, Jagt said, adding there were 158 unused beds in shelters Saturday night and 108 Sunday.

     Lastman stuck to his pledge yesterday that protesters ``are not taking over parks,´´ and police will decide how to end the standoff. His position
was backed by several city officials.

     Councillor Olivia Chow (Downtown), a police services board member, said the board shouldn't be concerned as long as it's the parks department which
calls in police if needed.

     Judy Sgro, vice-chair of the police services board, doesn't want police to be unfairly blamed if action is taken. ``It´s the reality of their job.
They have to deal with a lot of things and they have to respond,´´ she said.

      Even Premier Mike Harris weighed in on the issue before flying to Quebec city for the annual premiers' conference. He said his government
continues to fund 80 per cent of the shelter costs for the homeless and called upon the federal Liberals to help solve the problem.

     He wouldn't comment on what he thinks should be done with the protesters in Allan Gardens, saying it's Toronto's decision.

     But he did add that, given the available hostel beds, the tent city standoff appears to be politically motivated.

Contents copyright © 1996-1999, The Toronto Star.
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Date:    Wed, 11 Aug 1999 23:10:57 PDT
From:    Blazing Star <sananda@hotmail.com>
Subject: Toronto: protest update
 

August 11, 1999

RON BULL/TORONTO STAR

Park protest misdirected, councillor tells homeless

25 activists arrested after pre-dawn raid at Allan Gardens

By Bruce DeMara and Cal Millar
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

     Homeless activists were pointing fingers at the wrong target during their occupation of a city park, says the councillor whose ward contains the
site of the protest.

     About 90 police officers staged a pre-dawn raid to roust some 60 people who had been staying in Allan Gardens for the past four days to protest the lack of services for Toronto's homeless.

     ``We (at the city) have got the message; we are doing something. But it´s not enough,´´ said Councillor Kyle Rae (Downtown).

     ``It´s important to get the message out to the federal and provincial governments that they need to be back at the table on the housing agenda.

     ``But taking over a local park in downtown Toronto doesn´t help when the premiers are meeting in Quebec city and the (federal) Liberal caucus is meeting in Halifax. They (protesters) set up their stage in the wrong town.´´

     The protest was just ``one episode in a much larger struggle,´´ says John Clarke, head of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which organized the protest.

     ``There´s no question we´re at war with the city because they´re at war with the homeless,´´ he told reporters at police headquarters.

     Despite police warnings of more arrests if a similar protest is staged, Clarke said he has no intention of stopping his sit-ins.

     ``We also made clear to the mayor´s office that the campaign of action we´ve engaged in is going to continue,´´ he said.

     At 5:40 a.m. yesterday, police converged on what has been dubbed the Tent City and blew whistles to awaken sleeping demonstrators at the park bounded by Sherbourne, Gerrard, Carlton and Jarvis Sts.

     A wild melee broke out 20 minutes later as police began arresting protesters who defied the order to leave the area. Twenty-five people were arrested. Protest organizers continued urging people to resist as police made arrests.

     ``Who´s going to move?´´ yelled one man.

     ``Nooobody,´´ said other demonstrators in response, aping Mayor Mel Lastman.

     A homeless man from Toronto, who identified himself only as David, said he left the park when police began grabbing demonstrators.

     `The occupation of Allan Gardens by professional protesters prevented our children, our tourists and our senior citizens from enjoying our park.´ -
Mayor Mel Lastman

     ``I wasn´t going to be a hero,´´ he said. ``I didn´t want to get arrested. I didn´t want to go to jail.´´ David said he was awakened by police whistles and kicked in the side by an officer when he refused to get up.

     ``I jumped up and saw all the cops,´´ he said. No one was injured during the raid, said Inspector Randal Munroe of 51
Division in the Regent Park area.  After the area was cleared, ground crews began repairing damaged grass and shrubbery in the park.
The protesters who were arrested had to agree not to return to the park as part of their bail condition.  Of the 23 who appeared in College Park court yesterday afternoon, 20 were released on bail on condition they stay at least 100 metres from the park.

     The other three - all of whom have criminal records or have outstanding charges - will appear in court this morning. All will appear in court again next Wednesday.

     Two others were taken to youth court.  Twenty of the 25 arrested had permanent addresses.  And one of the group was wanted on a federal parole warrant.

     Only four of those arrested claimed to be homeless. Most of the protesters were charged for failing to leave the park when asked by police and with mischief related to interfering with property.

     Some faced additional charges for breach of probation, assault with a weapon and assaulting police.

     Lastman, who is on vacation, issued a statement supporting the police action.

     ``I am pleased that the park occupation has come to an end.

     ``The occupation of Allan Gardens by professional protesters prevented our children, our tourists and our senior citizens from enjoying our park,´´
the mayor said.

     Clarke, 45, who is not homeless and is paid more than $20,000 a year in salary by his organization, was at home in bed at the time of the raid.  He said he got no sleep during the two nights he stayed in the park.  ``I don´t think I have anything to be ashamed of . . . if anybody considers that to be a shameful indulgence, I´ll just have to stand with their judgment,´´ he said.

     Clarke said he has been barraged by phone calls all day from supporters pledging money and food to help the homeless.

     Deputy Mayor Case Ootes (East York), noting that most of those arrested have homes to go to, said: ``It does show you the hypocrisy of the organization . . . and the kind of disruption that these people can create.

     ``You really wonder what their agenda is.´´

     Clarke said he sees no problem with supporters of the homeless taking part in the protest and being arrested as a result.

     ``Obviously if people who are . . . supporters of our organization, who are housed and are in solidarity with the homeless, put themselves in a
front-line situation, that´s an admirable thing and not something that we´re ashamed of,´´ he said.

     Clarke said the protest was organized in response to the recent Community Action Policing program initiated by Lastman, which has pushed homeless  people from parks throughout the city.

     ``The clearing of this park will not end the resistance,´´ he said. ``It will not end the problem. We stand by that absolutely.´´

     Clarke said his organization is demanding an end to police harassment of the homeless and that the city provide adequate shelter space.   John Jagt, director of the city's hostel services, called the protest a setback to helping the poor and said its organizer used confrontational rather than co-operational techniques.

     ``This kind of protest, which is purported to be a homeless demonstration, does not help us in that trust with that community that we´re building,´´ Jagt said.

***
With files from Dale Anne Freed and Tracy Huffman

Contents copyright © 1996-1999, The Toronto Star.
***
Requested news, information and announcements are posted on this mailing

list for charitable research and educational purposes pursuant to:

Title 17 USC §107
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<><><><><><><><> 10.Click here to help the children
To: Mayor Lastman <mayor_lastman@city.toronto.on.ca>
 From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
 Date: Friday, August 13, 1999
 

 Mayor Lastman:

      You have basically declared homelessness to be illegal in Toronto.

      Humans sleep. Homeless people can be charged with tresspassing or  other offences, just for sleeping.

      Thanks to you, and your colleagues on Toronto City Council,  homeless people have nowhere to legally lay down and sleep.

      Concerned university students will re-occupy Allan Gardens on  Friday, August 13 at 7:00 pm.

      I met with the students this evening (Aug 12) and their plan, as I  understand it, is to re-occupy Allan Gardens for 24 hours every Friday  night to demonstrate that people have a right to sleep in public parks.

      Parks Commissioner Paul Ronan apparently has declared that the first  person to drive a stake into the ground to re-establish a safe park  will be arrested and charged.

      I have offered to be the first person to drive a stake into the ground.

      I invite other concerned citizens to bring tents and set them up and  sleep in them to demonstrate that people have a right to sleep in public parks.

      Allan Gardens is at the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard East.

 Bob Olsen  <bobolsen@interlog.com>
 

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<><><><><><><> 11.Click here to help the children
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 01:32:07 -0400 (EDT)
From: Elan Ohayon <ohayon@chass.utoronto.ca>
To: bobolsen@tao.ca
Subject: Urgent - STUDENTS TO RE-OCCUPY ALLAN GARDENS
 

Urgent - Please Distribute Widely
Friday August 13, 1999
 

STUDENTS TO RE-OCCUPY ALLAN GARDENS
 

     TORONTO - On Friday, August 13, 1999, at 7 pm, students will re-occupy Allan Gardens. The students will be sleeping overnight and vow to return every Friday night, until such time as concrete action is taken by all levels of government to address the problem of homelessness.

     The coalition of university students is shocked and appalled by the recent arrests of homeless people and their supporters at the Safe Park. Contrary to Toronto City Council's declaring homelessness to be a national disaster, the recent budgeting of 1.9 million dollars to "targeted policing" instead of housing has led to a worsening of the situation and to the harassment of homeless. Students decry the fact that homeless people are being charged with trespassing and
other offences if they attempt to sleep in public spaces.

     Chris Ramsaroop, 1998-99 President of the Students' Administrative Council at U of T: "We're here to show our support of the efforts of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, and to raise public awareness that the plight of the homeless is not just a matter for politicians - city, provincial or federal - but are the concerns of all members of society."

     Joel Harden, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario Component, echoes Ramsaroop's concerns: "Medicare and public education didn't fall from the sky. If the politicians won't do it, the community will."

     "It's clear that the municipal, provincial and federal governments have failed to meet their responsibilities. Permanent housing that is safe and affordable can only benefit the community. It's baffling that the governments aren't working with anti-poverty groups to achieve that goal." says Michol Hoffman, graduate student at U of T.

     Safe Park II, at the corner Carleton St. and Jarvis St., will be open to all; please bring appropriate supplies (tarps, tents, blankets, food, water).

For more information, please contact:

Bonte Minnema
416-935-0272
bonte@clo.com
                              - 30 -
 

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<><><><><><><><><><><> 12.Click here to help the children
University students plan to sleep in Allan Gardens tonight,
 Friday, August 13, 7:00 pm.

 Allan Gardens is where OCAP had its' recent Safe Park.

      CFRB radio called me at 7:15 am asking for info about the  students' event.

     Detective Kijewski of Toronto Police called me at 5:20 pm  and told me that the police have "no tolerance for sleeping  in the park."

     He said that Insp Munroe would be there and in charge and  that Insp Cleveland and Const Wolf Hartig would also be  there.

      I do not know what role I will play in this event and so  I may be arrested.

 Bob Olsen 6:15 pm

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<><><><><><><> 13.Click here to help the children

     The students asked me to bring some equipment for their event.

     I arrived at about 6:45 pm with tent, tarps and stuff.  TV crews  and lots of police already present.  Tons of cops showed up.  Horses, paddy wagons, Emergency Task Force, at least 2 police  inspectors. Perhaps 30 cops in sight and rumours of more out of  sight.  And Paul Ronan, acting Parks Commissioner.

     There was also lots of media.  Two CBC trucks as well as all the  other broadcast media came and went all evening.

      A crowd gathered.  Perhaps 150 people.

     The students strung a plastic tape around the perimeter of the  gathering.  The cops said that the tape interfered with the use  of the park and could lead to charges of "mischief."  The tape  was lowered to ground level.

      No attempt was made to set up a tent.

     The media interviewed the students frequently.

     The cops began thinning out at about 9:30 pm and by 11:00 pm  there were no cops in sight.  Even the paddy wagon left.

     I left at about 11:15 pm when there may have been about 20 people  there, including about 10 students.

      The students intended to stay the night.  They may or may not  lay down to sleep.  If they do sleep, they risk arrest.

      The fastest way to find out if arrests have been made is to  listen to 680 News.

      The students intend to be back in Allan Gardens every Friday night.
<http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml>
 

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<><><><><>14.Click here to help the children
 
 
 

Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 13:33:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: Elan Ohayon <ohayon@chass.utoronto.ca>
To: bobolsen@tao.ca
Subject: Safe Park Report
 

                                                Saturday August 14, 1999

                STUDENT PROTESTERS DEFY CITY

TORONTO - Saturday, August 14, 1999, 7 am.

     In defiance of threats from city officials students have just completed the first in a series of protests by sleeping overnight in Allen Gardens. The students were protesting the City's brutal August 10th closing of the OCAP Safe Park.  The coalition of students were also demanding concrete action by municipal, provincial and federal governments to address the problem of homelessness.

    Initially, a rally of over 200 students and community members was confronted with more than 60 riot police and mounted units. The police fled with the arrival of rain and a lightning storm. Students remained overnight and slept in the park.

     "Saying it is illegal to sleep in a public space is tantamount to saying homelessness is illegal. If the shelters are filled, is jail the only legal place for a homeless person to sleep? Without funding and resources the homeless are not going to go away - and neither will we!" says Oriel Varga of the University of Toronto Women's Centre.

     "The city is trying to cover up the homeless problem using force. It won't work. We came back this week and we'll be back next week to remind all levels of government of their responsibilities. We must ensure that safe housing is available to all members of the community" said University of Toronto Governor Elan Ohayon.

     Bonte Minnema, LGBTOUT Activist, concurs: "It is very sobering when you see all the suffering on the street. We're challenging all of the governments to an immediate implementation of a comprehensive action plan"

     Students will be returning again on Friday, August 20th, 1999. They will be holding a potluck dinner and call on community and labor organizations to come out, bring food, and lend their support to the effort.

For more information, please contact:
Bonte Minnema
416-935-0272
bonte@clo.com
 

- 30 -
 
 

From: Elan Ohayon <ohayon@chass.utoronto.ca>
 
 

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
   .............................................

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<><><><><><> 15.Click here to help the children
 <><><>

Subject: Allan Gardens News: Aug 14
    Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 15:37:12 -0400
   From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
      To: act-cuts-ont-l@list.web.net
 
 
 

Summary
 Three news reports. Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Canadian Press.

 Tents and sleeping bags illegal.

http://www.thestar.ca/thestar/editorial/updates/news/9908140_HOMELESS-SHO.html

TORONTO STAR

                              Aug 13, 13:25 EDT

  Canadian  News       Students vow to reoccupy park over  homeless crisis

 International News     TORONTO (CP) -

     Three days after police forced out homeless activists camped in a downtown park, a group of sympathetic university students were planning to    reoccupy it.

     The students say they will bed down in Allan Gardens tonight and return every Friday to protest the city's homeless crisis.

     ``We see homelessness as being a pressing issue,'' said University of Toronto student Bonte Minnema. ``Allan Gardens is a public space, everyone should enjoy it.''

     On Tuesday, a three-day occupation of the park by homeless people and anti-poverty activists ended when about 90 police   [Other Links]   officers marched in and moved them out.

 [Image]
     They had been protesting a shortage of  shelter beds, affordable housing and a new policy allowing police officers to work overtime to purge the city of squeegee kids, panhandlers and street criminals.

     About two dozen people were arrested and charged with public mischief and trespassing after police ordered the roughly 50 protesters to leave.

     ``It's disgusting the way the police came in and arrested people and the way it was in the media,'' said Minnema, who plans to sleep in the park tonight.

     ``It was: `The park is cleaned up and its over.' Well, it's not over.''

     But parks staff cautiously adopted a wait-and-see attitude today about the latest occupation.

     ``The plan is no different than any other night,'' said Paul Ronan, acting director of Toronto's parks and recreation services.

     Duty drivers will be patrolling city parks as usual. If they observe activities such as camping or sleeping - which are banned under park bylaws - they will contact police, Ronan said.

     Minnema said University of Toronto students have been e-mailing those at other universities and urging them to attend the protest.

     The students say they'll camp in the park every Friday night until the problem of homelessness is properly addressed.

            Contents copyright © 1996-1999, The Toronto Star.
 

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 http://www.canoe.com/TorontoNews/05_n1.html

Toronto Sun

   August 14, 1999

   Park protest stays peaceful

   No tents pitched at Allan Gardens By ROB GRANATSTEIN -- Toronto Sun

     The police were ready for battle and the protesters were willing to go to jail, but all both sides got was a peaceful picnic.

     Under the watchful eye of more than 20 Toronto Police officers, 50 protesters stood around at Allan Gardens and chanted about the homeless.

     It was a far cry from the violent end to the previous homelessness protest at the park last Tuesday.

     But the protesters aren't giving up. They plan to occupy a park in the city every Friday night until there is a solution to the homelessness problem.

 MORE DEMONSTRATIONS?

     "I think we're going to spend a lot of Friday nights in parks," said Bonte Minnema, 23, a University of Toronto student and one of the organizers of last night's student protest.

      Minnema said the fight against homelessness is especially important for students.

     "We're at a high risk of being homeless because of our high tuition," Minnema said.

MAYOR TARGETED

     So the protesters -- most of whom were not students -- took over part of the park to voice their displeasure. Most of their anger was directed at Mayor
   Mel Lastman.

     Police officers and the force's mounted unit kept close watch.   The officers were prepared to make arrests if any tents were set up but didn't have to make any.

     "We're seeing a very peaceful protest," said Insp. Randal Munroe.  He said there was no reason to move the group out of the park. "We're quite content to leave them here all night,"  Munroe said.
 

    Copyright © 1999, Quebecor New Media Limited Partnership.
     All rights reserved.
 

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http://www.canada.com/newscafe/getcp.asp?bk=national&sk=990814/n081401.html

Students occupy park over homeless crisis
08/13/99
       DAVID NODWELL

     TORONTO (CP) - Last weekend's protest campout at a city park repeated itself Friday night, with one critical change: No camping. Three days after Police ousted activists camped out at Allan Gardens to draw attention to homelessness, about 100 student-led protesters took over the same corner of the park.

     This time the only protection from a steady drizzle was a couple of large blue tarps - held overhead by hand, not tied to trees.

     The changes seemed to satisfy the phalanx of about 30 police and parks officials watching the protest from across the park.

     "They can stay in the park all night as far as I'm concerned, as long as there are no camp structures, no tents and no sleeping bags," said Paul Ronan, acting director of Toronto's parks and recreation services.

     This time, the protest was organized primarily by University of Toronto students, although activists from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and other groups were in attendance.

     "We want to stay here all night," said student and organizer Bonte Minnema. "The thing is, if we fall asleep, we'll get arrested."

     Tuesday's bust netted about two dozen people who were charged with public mischief and trespassing after police ordered the roughly 50 protesters to leave.

     Homeless people again appeared to be in the minority at Friday's protest. But Dean Fisher, who said he has been homeless for six years, said he was glad the issue was getting attention from people with roofs over their heads.

     "Homeless people protest it every day in their own way," said Fisher. "What we really need is to break the barrier."

     Insp. Randal Munroe said he understood the protesters' point, calling homelessness "almost a national disgrace."  But he said the protest had to keep within the bounds of the law.

     "There's a delicate balance here," he said. "This park isn't equipped for camping. Look around. Are there any washroom facilities? You want to have loudspeakers? Well, that hospital across the street is a facility for terminally ill aged people."

     Protesters on Friday objected to media coverage of Tuesday's bust, saying the fact that most of the people arrested weren't actually homeless makes no difference.

     "People shouldn't have to be directly affected by the problem," said Jessie Benjamin. "If they have a strong conviction on something then their opinion is as important as anyone else's."

     Like other protesters, Benjamin said he was prepared to come back to the park every week. "I can sacrifice a Friday night if it means someone else gets a home," he said.

                        © The Canadian Press, 1999

       Copyright © 1999 Southam Inc. All rights reserved.
 

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
   .............................................

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<><><><><><> 16.Click here to help the children

<><><>

Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 23:33:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: Bob Levitt <bw201@freenet.toronto.on.ca>
Subject: **London Free Press: A safe park for the class conscious

London Free Press   -   August 13, 1999

                 A safe park for the class conscious

By JUDY REBICK

     There has rarely been a more mean-spirited public campaign than Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman's attack on the poor people of his city. It was the Ontario Coalition against Poverty's safe park, set up last Saturday and shut down by police the following Tuesday which made residents of Toronto aware of the mayor's dirty war.

     Lastman's solution to homelessness and poverty seems to be police harassment, what anti-poverty advocate Kathy Hardiff calls "social cleansing." According to Lastman, panhandlers, squeegee kids and the visibly homeless are such a threat to the fine burghers of Hogtown that he needs a specially organized $1.9-million Community Action Policing unit to rid the city of what he calls "troublemakers" and "thugs." Squeegee kids, the most visible and in-your-face segment of Toronto's homeless are the primary targets of the campaign.

     The safe park provided another target. As an argument against leaving it be, Lastman said, "The citizens of Toronto should feel the parks are theirs and that they can walk in their bare feet in the parks." Personally, I would rather walk barefoot at Yonge and Bloor than in any park in Toronto and it is not human excrement that worries me. The parks, according to Mayor Mel, belong only to those citizens of Toronto who can be trusted in Lastman's eyes not to soil the greenery.

     If it weren't for the dramatic and visible tactic of establishing a safe park in Allan Gardens, most people in Toronto wouldn't know anything about Lastman's campaign against the poor. The coalition set up tents and provided the city's homeless with food, shelter and protection from police harassment. At dawn on Tuesday, the police rounded up park occupants, shut down the community that was beginning to grow there and arrested 27 people. Ever since, local media pundits have been denouncing OCAP spokesperson John Clarke, claiming the safe park did nothing to help the homeless.

     I visited the safe park last Saturday. It was quiet and low-key and left lots of room for other people to use the park. Toronto columnists are claiming the tactic of occupying a park reduced the sympathy of the good people of Toronto for the homeless. But what good has sympathy done them so far? Despite the persuasive Golden report, which called for increased government spending on social housing, nothing has been done beyond adding a few more shelter beds and unleashing the repressive forces of the police department.

     Based on call-in shows I heard about the safe park, most people thought it was stupid to use police resources to shut down a peaceful occupation of a small part of a public park where homeless people often sleep on their own.  If, however, the pundits and the mayor are correct and the people of Toronto are so concerned about being harassed by homeless people on the streets, the OCAP park may provide another solution.

     Allan Gardens, because of its centrality and size -- the same things that made it ideal for OCAP's safe park -- could be designated as a haven, a "safe park," for downtrodden homeowners and businesspeople of Metro Toronto, a place where they could be free from the harassment and discrimination Lastman claims they are subject to. Tents, large enough to house five families each, can easily and inexpensively be set up in the park and can provide ample shelter and security for occupants. When it starts to get cold, the residents of the park could sleep on the many surprisingly comfortable subway grates of neighbouring Carlton Street.  With proper supplies (maybe Starbucks could set up a low-fat cappuccino stand), the good burghers of Toronto could stay within the borders of Allan Gardens almost indefinitely.

     Best of all, they'd never be harassed by a panhandler or homeless person again.

     I feel sure if we ask the homeless people of Toronto really nicely, they'll agree to stay away from Allan Gardens during its occupation. But where will they go? I have a feeling they might find some use for those nice toasty-warm beds and full refrigerators in the newly-vacant Rosedale and Forest Hill mansions. Maybe the squeegee kids would like to see what the inside of one of those brand-new BMWs looks like.

     Occupants of the park may be seized by the mood and decide to take off their shoes and socks to traipse barefoot through the grass of Allan Gardens. Should they happen to tread on something unpleasant, they can take comfort in the knowledge that what they have stepped in is of the highest possible social pedigree.

judy.rebick@sympatico.ca

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<><><><><><> 17.Click here to help the children
 

The following was in the Etobicoke Life, August 11, 1999

PUBLICITY STUNT GOES TERRIBLY AWRY

TALK'S CHEAP COLUMN BY Ray Panavas

     Mayor Mel Lastman can rest easy now that Toronto's finest have rescued Allan Gardens from the homeless.

     Eighty cops made their move at 6 a.m. yesterday morning, at which time they gave the indigent half an hour to pack up and move on or risk arrest.

     The homeless, used to being rousted from their sleep, took the police at their word, packing their belongings into shopping carts before finding shelter from the pending rain.

      A number of protest organizers took exception and were dragged, in some cases kicking and screaming, off to jail.

     So ends the latest chapter in this city's sad saga of dealing with the increasingly obvious problem of homelessness.

     As the police were busy booking the two dozen activists eager to try civil disobedience and bring attention to the plight of Toronto's poor, the debate about the mess continues.

     The park protest raised many more questions than it answered, most notably where our illustrious leader stands.

      Lastman made big headlines when he pressed Ottawa to do something about homelessness earlier this year.  The problem was out of control, screamed Mel.  So Ottawa decided to study the question, stopping short of a royal commission, but appointing a cabinet minister to deal with the problem.

     Mel scoffed at the effort, proclaiming that the situation was so patently obvious that only big money from the federal government could stem the bleeding.

     "Show me the money," he bleated, before promising to keep homelessness front and centre on the national agenda.

     True to his word, he has managed to do just that.  But rather than join forces with front line poverty workers by setting up a tent in Allan Gardens, Lastman proclaimed that city parks were people places and that he would do everything in his power to keep them syringe and condom free.

     His inference that the homeless were responsible for littering parks with needles and condoms was as offensive as is his ignorance of the problems of the poor.

      The decision to send in the police will haunt Lastman when word spreads of the draconian early morning raid, and Mel will have no one but himself to blame for the newsreel footage.

     In fact, this whole mess is a Lastman publicity stunt gone terribly wrong.

      Unilaterally deciding that our streets were no longer safe when a three-year-old girl was gunned down this summer, Lastman announced his hare-brained scheme to pay police officers $1.9 million in overtime to bring some order to crime hot spots.

     Community activists perceived this police action as little more than an attack on the poor, squeegee kids, and the otherwise homeless, so they decided to take action.

     In the finest tradition of the 1960s, they occupied a park, inviting the homeless to camp out and enjoy some donated food.

      Outraged, Mayor Mel complains the activists are mounting a publicity stunt because there are more than 100 empty spaces in the city's shelters.  Talking tough for three days, Mel finally sends in the police signaling the end of the homeless crisis in Toronto.

      If nothing else, the ill-fated protest has illustrated that our mayor is not the kind of politician poor people can push around. Further, Mel has shown himself to be a man of compassion and caring, a politician who understands that there is no sense promoting tourism in the downtown core if a tent city springs up within walking distance of the Eaton's Centre.

     Besides leaving a bad taste in my mouth, the way Mel's handled this affair leaves a number of burning questions begging for answers. Were the police officers involved in the early morning raid on regular duty or were they part of the overtime brigade set up to target crime hot spots?  What purpose was served when Lastman linked the homeless with intravenous drug addiction and prostitution, the usual references when politicians claim that parks are full of needles and condoms?  Did it ever occur to our mayor that by insisting Toronto had an abundance of unused shelter beds he was destroying what little credibility he had left in his self-proclaimed role as champion of the homeless?

     With champions like this...
 

E. & O.E.
 

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<><><><><> 19.Click here to help the children
 

         Subject: Police Protect Allan Gardens
    Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 12:55:47 -0400
   From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
      To: act-cuts-ont-l@list.web.net

     I saw a police car parked at 10:15 am this morning, Thursday August 26 on the grass in Allan Gardens where the OCAP Safe Park had been.  There were two police cars parked there on the grass when I came back fifteen minutes later.

     I realized that the police cars are there to stake their claim to that piece of grass and to warn the homeless not to sleep there and to assure the local dog walkers that it is safe for their dogs to shit on that grass.

     A group of students, together with a few homeless people sleep there Friday nights, starting August 16.

      The police park there cars there on the grass to assure everyone that they will not fail to protect the grass from people who might sleep there.
 

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
   .............................................
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<><><><><> 20.Click here to help the children
Subject: Police Harrass Students at Safe Park
    Date: Fri, 03 Sep 1999 18:38:58 -0400
   From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
      To: act-cuts-ont-l@list.web.net
 
 
 
 

  A small group of University of Toronto graduate students have been sleeping, illegally, in the City of Toronto park Allan Gardens at Sherbourne and Gerrard every Friday night from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am in an attempt to assert the right of homeless people to take shelter in public parks.

  Here is a brief report from one of the organizers, Chris Ramsaroop, past-president of the UofT Students' Council.
 
 

Date:   Fri, 3 Sep 1999 16:50:14 -0400 (EDT)
From:   chris.ramsaroop@utoronto.ca
To:     bobolsen@interlog.com
Subject: san: TARGETED POLICING IN THE PARK (fwd)
 

Hey....

I just wanted to give everyone a brief synopsis of what has been going on at Allan Gardens over the last three weeks. As many of you know this is our fourth week there. And as such we have seen an escalation of police tactics especially during the early mornings.  This is my recollection, if there are any errors ommissions or additions that need to be made please feel free to do so. PEACE
 

Friday, August 13

First Week: When we arrived at the park we were greeted with dozens and dozens of police officers. THE Emergency Task force was there as well as three or four mounted police units. In total there was about thirty to forty police in uniform and  several undercover officers who were also present. There numbers dwindled when the rain came and by midnight there were no uniformed cops in the park. HOWEVER during the night we received several visits maybe six from polcie cars who drove around the park. While keeping up my night watch several people came by asking for drugs- a constant theme as you shall see.
 

Friday, August 20

Second Week. Due to the rain once more the police presence in the beginning was minimal from what I recall HOWEVER about four in the morning the crew faced an overtly hostile police unit who claimed to be looking for drugs and alcohol and were quite hostile in their nature with dealing with those that stayed at night. At five in the morning two men one over six feet and the other wearing a BILLY IDOL t-shirt came by asking if we had any drugs, and during his conversation with our crew they kept emphasizing that they were not undercovers YEAH RIGHT!!!! I am not sure how many night vistas we had from them during this second day
 

Friday, August 27

Third: Well once more we were greeted with about thirty to forty police officers who were ready to intimidate our gathering. Some were there for the critical mass crew which came by for us. The main point is that our city spent thousands of dollars in protecting the park from what? We all know that money could have been spent allot of other useful places instead of trying to intimidate us!

Police for the most part kept their distance first check came about 9:00pm where tow cyclist cops came by flashing their lights particularly in our faces asking what we were drinking. They patrolled our camp like they were in charge and then they left about five minutes afterwards.

After that myself and another activist left the main group ( both of us are people of color ) and when we left the main group to chill by the botanical gardens of the gardens., We noticed at least six or seven patrols pass right by us. I remember one officer who stopped and almost ready to arrest us surely expecting to people of color to be drug dealers.

Always about midnight or little after that we noticed a van right in front of the main group so we went back to see what was up. It was the police again looking for drugs and alcohol. This time driving right thru our camp and riding over our bags, I heard one story that a cop was joking about driving thru-" hey I think I ran over somebody hahaha'- how messed up!

Anyway accompanying the van were four cyclists with Metro Toronto's Public Order unit. We have seen this bunch around It seems for almost every protest we do they have this guys following us. They ain't the most fun bunch you will meet and were openly engaged in hostile conversation with some of our crew. The cops targeted one of our members who is a person of color and demanded that he open his hands so they can see what's in it, they were quite nasty with him. They then moved freely checking bags , kicking things and flashing their lights looking for anything they could try to make stick on us. They then went up to one brotha and started to play around with his bag which he had on his back. While constantly asking if he has anything in there. They were clearly on a mission of harassment.

About this time a man was walking with a friend holding a case of beer in his hand No open bottles, just walking and they started to harass him as well. They attempted to 'hang with us' for about fifteen minutes but then we told everyone not to engage with them. They left shortly. Later on about four in the morning a patrol car came by as I was hanging with a friend just talking on a bench. HE stops , shines his light and asks me what am I drinking I tell him juice and he goes" YOU ARE A GOOD CITIZEN' and rides away. My friend and I are like what the hell is his problem. He rides off and starts harassing a man who is simply walking thru the park.

THIS IS JUST A BRIEF LIST OF WHAT HAPPENED. who knows what they will try this week, Friday September 3, 1999.

PEACE
Chris Ramsaroop         chris.ramsaroop@utoronto.ca

..................................................................
 

Bob Olsen adds:
Action Call
  We need to get a crowd of people and media down to Allan
  Gardens, Sherbourne and Gerrard Sts every Saturday morning
  at 6:00 am to hear the students report on their latest night
  in the park.
 
 
 

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
   .............................................
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<><><><><> 21.Click here to help the children
 

Date: 29 Aug 1999 14:05:41
From: bw201@freenet.toronto.on.ca
Subject: ACT-CUTS-ONT-L: **Globe and Mail: John Sewell on af

From: Bob Levitt <bw201@freenet.toronto.on.ca>
Subject: **Globe and Mail: John Sewell on affordable housing

Steve Gilchrist the Minister of Dehousing and long-time Canadian
Tire employee must love this old article.
 

GARDEN SHEDS THE SOLUTION FOR THE HOMELESS?

Monday, March 30, 1987

BY JOHN SEWELL, columnist, The Globe and Mail

(Mr. Sewell is chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority
and a former mayor of Toronto.)

THE SOLUTION seems to be right here, on page 279 of the Canadian Tire catalogue. The picture shows a metal garden shed with a peaked roof, a door on one wall and nothing on the other three. The measurements are five feet by eight feet, with a maximum clearance of 5 1/2 feet.

The list price is $199.99 unassembled, the pieces carefully collapsed together in a chunky cardboard box. It would take someone with very basic knowledge of how to hold a screwdriver and pliers about 60 minutes to erect.

The scheme would be to erect a number of these, in a row, about three feet from each other. A window should be cut in the back wall and a piece of glass inserted - if someone were to purchase enough of them, the manufacturer would likely make the alteration and give a discount that would leave the over-all price little changed.

These sheds could serve as temporary housing. They aren't grand by any means - most of us would think they are quite mean - but they are sturdy, fireproof and quickly constructed. For those in Toronto who literally have nowhere to call home, they would supply a much longed-for private living space at a most reasonable price.

The objections to such a use for a garden shed are easy to spot. It would be an affront to expect any government to house people in such a mockery of a home. Putting rows of such buildings in public parks would not only deny others the use of that space for recreation, but would make the city look like a mining camp in a Charlie Chaplin movie.

But those objections are equally easy to overcome. A home that looks like a garden shed is better than no home at all. It offers a person privacy, a secure place to store belongings and entertain friends, an address from which to apply for government assistance and enough stability to permit meeting and getting to know the neighbors.

Best of all, it is inexpensive. Improvements could be made depending on the amount the city wanted to spend. Obviously it would be helpful if there were a foundation raising the structure above ground level, but that could be constructed of plywood sitting on several four-by-fours. Electricity would be a nice addition for light, a hot plate and a small refrigerator. If the shed were to be used over the winter, heat would be needed and perhaps some insulation. Water
supply would have to be done centrally, with a central toilet, shower and tap room, but these facilities already exist in many of the large downtown parks.

In fact, including the price of the shed itself, the cost of each unit supplied with these services - as well as with wooden sidewalks - would be well under $1,000, labor included. As for the city looking like a mining camp, it's true, parts of it would. But to many eyes that would be more pleasant that the lineups outside the hostels or the scenes of men sleeping over heating grates in sundry locations.  And yes, some people would lose the use of some parts of some parks, but in a city so well endowed with park space, the loss is hardly one to be concerned with in the short run.

What makes the garden-shed solution so attractive is that it can be done quickly and with little cost. Other solutions involve negotiating for land that always seems too expensive, getting a rezoning that will require several years of fighting with local residents, lining up at the door of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. to get a mortgage commitment, then letting a tender in the hope the price comes in within budget. No wonder supply has not kept up with demand and there are 10,000 or more people in Toronto with nowhere to call home.

This kind of solution is fast and efficient and within our means. No one would ever call these places adequate, but they are quite literally better than nothing. It would be easy to dismiss this idea as something like Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal - too bizarre to act upon. Far more difficult would be doing something more practical in 1987, which the United Nations has deemed International Year of the Homeless.
 
 

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
   .............................................
 

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<><><><><> 22.Click here to help the children

Subject: Students camp in Allan Gardens, Fri. Oct. 1
    Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 10:35:45 -0400
   From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@interlog.com>
      To: act-cuts-ont-l@list.web.net

      Following the OCAP Safe Park in Allan Gardens in early August, a group of University of Toronto students have camped out in Allan Gardens, corner
     or Sherbourne and Gerrard, for the past seven Friday nights to support the right of homeless persons to take shelter in public parks, unmolested by police.  Needless to say, the students have been heavily harrased by the police.

     They continue this Friday, Oct 1, 1999
 
 
 

Date:   Mon, 27 Sep 1999 22:09:07 -0400 (EDT)
From:   chris.ramsaroop@utoronto.ca
To:     bobolsen@interlog.com
Subject: Homelessness (fwd)
 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 21:40:23 PDT
From: Paul Tsang <p.tsang@utoronto.ca>
To: chris.ramsaroop@utoronto.ca
Subject: Homelessness

Students working on the homelessness initiative are going to have a BBQ/info session on the Sid Smith Patio, Wed Sep 29, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., to promote the
issue of homelessness, the Fri Oct 1 Allan Gardens action (7 p.m.) and the Sat, Oct 2 Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC) event - 11 a.m. community
meal at Allan Gardens; 12 noon, march to St. Lawrence Market.

There are various ways to show support:
1) Endorsements - for the Wed, Fri, Sat event(s).
2) Provide a quote that we can use to promote the event(s).
3) Attend the event(s).

Here is a sample of the endorsements we have so far:

"If all 3 levels of government would show the same courage, tenacity and commitment to addressing the needs of homeless people as shown by the Allan Gardens students, we would have caring solutions in no time." Margaret Hancock Chair, U of T Taskforce on Homelessness, Warden, Hart House, U of T

"The homelessness we see in this city is appalling. It is deeply disturbing. It is incomprehensible how it is allowed to continue. How can it not be on the
top of every politician's agenda at all three levels of government? The work of the students in bringing attention to homelessness is impressive and has to be
supported." Marilyn Van Norman, Director of Student Services, U of T

"Homelessness is an unavoidable and disgraceful part of the university experience at U of T. There's not a single student on the downtown campus that has not come across the plight of the homeless. As responsible members of the community, we have to step forward and address the inequities in society that can have such great wealth in a city like Toronto, yet not provide safe, affordable housing for all." Paul Tsang, President, Graduate Students' Union, U of T

"Their efforts have been tremendous. These students are heroes to me. They're putting their money where their mouth is."
Marilyn Churley, MPP - NDP community services critic

"No one should be homeless. Shelter is a human necessity. The show of solidarity between students, who are going through housing difficulties of their own, and the homeless will make a difference."
Howard Hampton, MPP - NDP party leader
 

===============================================
PAUL TSANG, President, Graduate Students' Union
Canadian Federation of Students, Local 19
University of Toronto
16 Bancroft Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1C1
Tel: (416) 978-2391    Fax: (416) 971-2362
E-mail:  p.tsang@utoronto.ca
web: www.utoronto.ca/gsunion
===============================================
 
 

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<><><><><> 23.Click here to help the children
 

 A story about two political trees.

 In August 1999, OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Povery)
 set up a "safe park" for homeless people in Allan Gardens
 at the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard in Toronto. A
 huge banner proclaiming "SAFE PARK" was hung between two
 huge trees.  After a couple of days and tons of media
 attention, the police came and chased everybody away and
 arrested and charged 25 people.

 Later that week, on Friday August 13, a group of Univeristy
 of Toronto students came and slept in the park as an act
 of solidarity with OCAP and the homeless.  The students
 then went back and slept there every Friday night since.
 The cops came and hassled them.  Undercover cops came and
 tried to buy marijuana from the students or their homeless
 friends.  Parks officials came on occasion and threatened
 to call the cops.

 No one expected that the students would be able to sustain
 their Friday night demonstrations throughout the winter.
 They slept out in torrential rain.  They slept out on the
 bare ground on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and on the
 coldest nights of the winter.

 You are not allowed to set up tents in the park.  So,
 the students learned to drape a huge blue tarpaulin over
 a convenient tree branch approximately 30 centimetres in
 diameter and use that for protection from the wind and
 rain.  It was highly conspicuous and drew lots of media
 attention.

 Three weeks ago, mid-February, Danny, one of the homeless
 people who had been in the OCAP Safe Park and who slept
 out with the students every Friday night since, reported
 that he had seen parks officials examining that tree
 branch.

 When we got there on Friday, March 10, that perfectly
 healthy tree branch was gone!  Also, one of the huge
 trees that the OCAP Safe Park banner had been tied to
 was also gone.  Killed in the war against the homeless.

 The students will continue to sleep in Allan Gardens,
 corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard on Friday nights, trees
 or no trees.  They usually set up at about 9:00 pm and
 leave about 9:00 - 10:00 am.  Come on down later on
 Friday nights or at about 9:00 am on Saturday mornings
 and show your support for the students.

 I hope to see you there this Friday, March 17 between
 10:00 pm and midnight or Saturday morning between
 9:00 and 10:00 am.

 Bob Olsen, Toronto

   .............................................
   Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com


 

Related websites can be found at:

http://www.silvergull.net/agp/
TORONTO - Toronto's activist community is celebrating today as criminal charges against U of T graduate student and anti poverty activist  Elan Ohayon were dismissed. Tuesday, January 23, 2001

http://www.uoft.com/
University of Toronto Governing Council Member, Elan Ohayon, arrested while helping provide food and shelter to homeless.
Contains additional links and info re homelessness in Toronto.
 

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