Toronto planning to hire private security to prevent large encampments in parks

TORONTO – The City of Toronto is planning to hire private security guards to monitor certain parks and prevent large homeless encampments from cropping up as they did earlier in the pandemic.

City’s spokesman Brad Ross says proposals from private security contractors will be accepted until May 30 and the cost of the project will be determined when the contract is awarded.

He says the contracted security guards will contact city teams when a structure or tent is seen in a park.

Ross says those teams will quickly contact the encampment occupants and offer support services and safe accommodation.

The parks included in the plan are Trinity Bellwoods Park, Lamport Stadium Park, Alexandra Park and Dufferin Grove, some of which saw violent clashes break out between police and the homeless and their supporters when the city moved to clear encampments last year.

The city says it also plans to have two mobile security teams visit Moss Park and Barbara Hall Park.

Homeless encampments began popping up across Toronto in March 2020 as hundreds fled shelters for fear of contracting COVID-19. By late 2020, there were more than 50 encampments across Toronto.

Ross notes that it is “unsafe, illegal and unhealthy” to camp in Toronto parks and notes that a city bylaw prevents it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2022.

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