Tue. May 24th, 2022

The city of Toronto has banned two homeless camp supporters from all of its public parks and community centers for a year, letters from the city show to the two men.

Alykhan Pabani and a man known as “Dredz” received letters signed by Mayor Chris Murray on October 6 and 4, respectively, notifying them of a ban on all property operated by the city’s parks, forestry and recreation (PFR) division.

Both men live in city parks at the west end and also support dozens of homeless people living in tents in Randy Padmore and Dufferin Grove parks. They say they were evicted without notice, had their property removed by the city and were told they could be charged with violation if they violated the ban.

“I feel targeted,” Pabani said, adding that out of about 40 tents in Dufferin Grove Park, 30 police officers and 20 city workers came after his tent alone and took all of his belongings while he was not there.

“They’re trying to scare me – scare me from organizing,” he said.

Alykhan Pabani outside his tent in Dufferin Grove Park, after retrieving his belongings from the city on October 8, 2021. (CBC / Martin Trainor)

The move comes as Toronto faces a housing crisis at an affordable price and is under control for several high-profile camp cleanings this summer, where it used unrest. The city spent nearly $ 2 million clearing three city parks, and Toronto’s ombudsman launched an investigation into the clearings last month.

The city’s communications chief, Brad Ross, said the two men harassed, threatened staff and interfered in the work of moving people living in parks inside.

“We try to work with people in a very cooperative way,” Ross said. “When people get in the way of it, for reasons I can not fathom, it requires that we take some steps to ensure that we can do our job so that people are safe. And that’s what the city of Toronto is doing. have done. “

“You can not camp in a park, it is not a choice,” Ross said. “Camping in parks is not allowed. It is illegal.”

The homeless camp in Dufferin Grove Park on October 8, 2021. (CBC / Dale Manucdoc)

Doug Johnson Hatlem, a street preacher with Sanctuary Toronto, said the city move would put the two men in danger.

“This city ban has immediate consequences for life or death,” Hatlem, who knows both men, said in an email to CBC Toronto.

“Through a stroke of the pen, people are cut off from using heating centers, from getting food or clothes in a city-run meeting center, or from returning to local communities in parks where the city has now centralized access to its services, including the permanent housing enrollment list. “

CBC Toronto has reviewed the letters sent to both men, which refer to the PRF’s code of conduct, the city’s human rights and anti-harassment and discrimination policy, were issued under the Infringement Act and entered into force immediately. A complaint form was also included.

Pabani was told that his ban was for recording conversations between city staff and other campers that contained private details, without consent; “harass, obstruct or impede” city staff in carrying out official city work on campsites; and participate in “activities that pose a safety concern” for urban staff performing urban work.

Pabani said the message also refers to him filming people who were violent removed from Lamport Stadium Park on his cell phone. It is legal to record and film on public property.

Ross’s sad people “can definitely film city staff doing their jobs”, but when a third party is involved, e.g. A camper who has asked not to be filmed is an obstacle to continue filming.

“It’s part of getting in the way of staff trying to get their jobs done,” Ross said.

“Dredz” was told that the city received reports that he had threatened other park dwellers, used a weapon against another park user, participated in illegal activity in parks, such as the sale of controlled drugs and drugs, and had been observed as aggressive over for city staff.

He questions why the charges were not acted upon immediately and was brought to the police if the city has witnesses and evidence, saying the city has acted as a “judge and jury”.

“Dredz” is a resident of Randy Padmore Park and says the city wants homeless people out of sight and out of mind. (CBC / Martin Trainor)

“We have been accused of these crimes or incidents and automatically [have] been consequent without any place to fight it, “Dredz said.

Asked why Dredz was not charged or arrested and given the opportunity to fight the allegations through the justice system, Ross said he would leave that question to police.

The two men are represented by the Community Justice Collective and are considering taking the city to court.

“These bans on all public space not only do not follow the basic public process and Toronto’s own municipal code, but are manifestly unconstitutional because of the damage they cause to individuals,” said Sima Atri, one of the lawyers representing them. .

In a letter sent to the city, Atri and the two other lawyers representing the couple pointed out that the city had not given Pabani and Dredz 72 hours notice to leave the park, as required by the city’s municipal code.

Previous similar bans found too broad by the Ombudsman

This is not the first time the city is doing this. In 2006, a man was banned from attending all cities in Toronto parks and recreational facilities for one year due to “inappropriate behavior” in two locations. After waiting for the year-long ban, the man was told it would remain “indefinitely”.

In 2010 The City Ombudsman Report later found that the ban was “too broad” and happened without proper documentation. It recommended that the PFR suspend individuals before issuing a ban and allow them to respond to the allegations.

It was also recommended that the city notify the Toronto Ombudsman before issuing a ban.

A spokesman for the Toronto Ombudsman told CBC Toronto that the city did not notify the office of the two bans on Pabani and Dredz.

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