Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.
“It is pretty outrageous that they’re coming out with this statement,” Councillor Maria Lantieri told the Star Thursday night.
The mayor’s office has been tight-lipped about the matter, but a city spokesperson said in an email: “As part of Toronto’s strategy to prevent the movement of people, temporary and temporary-like shelters, the city has been working for months with municipalities to develop a strategic tool designed to prevent people from entering into structures meant to house homeless people.
“While that tool now has specific instructions for when it appears that individuals will be using homeless shelters, the city expects that people will use the shelter that they otherwise find available before they are asked to leave.
“We have encouraged other municipalities to assist in this process as well. This has included the involvement of local police forces, and in fact Toronto Police Service has advised individuals they are not required to register as a shelter provider when seeking shelter at a Toronto shelter.”
Tory Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said she was “very surprised” by the statement. (Toronto police had previously said they were unable to provide an explanation as to why they hadn’t made the shelters public, instead directing people to municipal websites.)
Wong-Tam said she was particularly surprised given that several shelters were reportedly used by people arrested in recent months. In the cases of people arrested for “dealing drugs, public intoxication or being an accessory before the fact to the alleged theft of a vehicle,” the city said, “the shelter was not a permanent or place of safety.”
She said municipal services for the homeless are intended for people who need assistance.
“They are for people who need our help,” Wong-Tam said.
She pointed to the city’s shelter statistics showing people who enter Toronto city shelter facilities are almost always from the community. Only two people entering the shelters leave on average each night — one person who “gets