Fri. May 20th, 2022

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Look no further, but campers and tents have taken over another city park.

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This time it’s Dufferin Grove Park’s turn.

It seems that some people feel uncomfortable staying in a four-star hotel at all costs, and they prefer the real estate experience to the Dufferin Mall.

“It’s not safe in a hotel,” a squatter known as Dreddz explained Friday. “I never go to a hotel.”

The problem is that he can not stay in this park or others for the next year after receiving what he calls both an eviction and a violation message from the city of Toronto.

“I feel like I’m being nominated,” he said. “They’re doing it to myself and another guy because we’re leaders.”

(L) Dreaddz, who was deported from Dufferin Grove Park and sent a notice from the city of Toronto not to enter the park for a year, and Sima Atri, a social justice lawyer and co-director of the Community Justice Collective, are seen here in Dufferin Grove Park Friday, October 8, 2021.
(L) Dreaddz, who was deported from Dufferin Grove Park and sent a notice from the city of Toronto not to enter the park for a year, and Sima Atri, a social justice lawyer and co-director of the Community Justice Collective, are seen here in Dufferin Grove Park Friday, October 8, 2021. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun / Postmedia Network

The city does nothing to apologize for this.

“As a result of serious security concerns, two people – one from Randy Padmore Park, one from Dufferin Grove Park – received service letters for engaging in threatening and disruptive behavior as well as harassment of city staff and partner agency staff,” Toronto spokesmen Brad Ross and Anthony Toderian said. in a statement sent to me and Sun photographer Jack Boland.

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So this is definitely an out-of-the-box situation where the city and people in the park are in quarrels.

Dreddz — a well-to-do person who has been seen demonstrating during layoffs at Trinity Bellwoods, Alexandra Park and Lamport Stadium — talks about poverty, lack of urban investment, and a society without compassion.

He is a sympathetic person who needs the help of society, but his perspective on what is being done and not done does not correspond to reality.

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The city has invested millions of dollars in helping the homeless, which includes getting them off the streets and into temporary hotel shelters while trying to find them more permanent residences. Dozens of services are offered to help, and Toronto provides endless care for the needy through volunteer work and fundraising.

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Even in these campgrounds, where residents apparently dig it, six pizzas were delivered as well as a box of water and even supplies from a rented moving car, including sofas, chairs and new mattresses for a more comfortable night’s sleep. About 30 tents have been pitched there now.

Meanwhile, all the complaining among the residents about how hard it is for people staying at The Novotel has not received much sympathy from the working class who could only ever dream of staying in such an elegant place. A simple “thank you” the city of Toronto and its taxpayers would probably go over better.

That said, the city always needs new thinking and should regularly sit down with people like Dreddz to start building trust.

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I met the perfect person who I think could facilitate this. She is very clever and offered not just complaints, but practical, intelligent solutions. Her name is Sima Atri, a Harvard-trained attorney for the Community Justice Collective, who made it clear that the temporary hotel residency program does not work for some who are not used to structuring.

She feels a better method might be to get people directly from a park to permanent housing.

Even Dreddz agreed, albeit reluctantly, with this lawyer.

I felt there was some movement there and would encourage them all to speak instead of fight. It is better to come up with a plan and give it a shot rather than looking for confrontation. The city of Toronto is not against new ideas and I think Atri has the right understanding of what would work and what would not.

Either way, it can not be forgotten that these city parks and playgrounds are for families and not hardcore drug abuse, lethargy and camping.

But you would not know it by going through a new, unofficial, campground known as Dufferin Grove Park these days.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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