A NEW PUSH IS ON TO CLEAR HOMELESS FROM THE VALLEY
AND IT’S COMING FROM THE DON’S ECO-DEFENDERS
By Kris Scheuer
(Published in NOW magazine March 23-30/06)
Through a break in a chain-link fence, over train tracks and felled trees and down slick mud banks – there’s no quick or easy route to this chaotic homeless encampment tucked not so neatly into a secluded corner of the Don Valley.
It’s a sanctuary from the bustle of the city, an ideal place to avoid society for my guide, Kurt, and seven or eight other homeless people who call this scattering of tents, sleeping bags and garbage home.
An estimated 111 homeless encampments are scattered throughout the city’s ravines, parks and woodlands, including many right here in the valley.
The city used to tolerate the people who call the valley home — but now a slowly building movement for their removal is theatening their riverbed shelters. It started when council passed a bylaw banning sleeping in Nathan Phillips Square and other public spaces.
Staff from the city’s Streets to Homes programs and other departments have been paying more regular visits to the Don.
Some 20 encampments have been cleared city-wide, and interviews with city staff suggest that more evictions are planned come spring. Streets to Homes says its forays are aimed at helping valley-dwellers find rental accommodation. Continue reading