Local residents concerned by the increase in crime and other activity in and around two midtown homeless shelters have organized a rally to protest the city facilities, scheduled for Aug. 15 in front of Northern Secondary School near the corner of Mount Pleasant and Eglinton.
The residents are organizing the Rally for Safety via a private Facebook group to draw attention to the frustration and concern felt with regards to a number of incidents that have made headlines in local media including a stabbing, a fire and a drug overdose at two temporary homeless shelters set up by the city to help vulnerable residents experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
News of the rally has drawn a great deal of attention on social media.
Was also sent this about an upcoming “crusade”. Told it’s being heavily circulated in midtown and online pic.twitter.com/HQPc31xZe8
— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) August 12, 2020
A letter local city councillor Josh Matlow posted on his website addresses the issue.
“In the past week, the facility on Broadway has experienced an overdose death of a shelter client, the stabbing of a City employee and a fire. In addition, there have been numerous break-ins, harassment of area residents, and needles found in public areas. The impacts on the shelter clients and the surrounding community are unacceptable and must be addressed,” wrote Matlow, in part.
“These incidents are the result of a shelter community that has a significant need for mental health and addiction supports. Many of these shelter clients were released from provincially regulated mental health or correctional facilities without a housing plan in place. As a result, the housing of these individuals has become the responsibility of the City.”
But, he has also commented that he believes the rally is not a good idea and suggested it is being organized by a former city councillor and a local newspaper columnist from the right-wing of the political spectrum to stoke fear.
To those who’ve asked about these flyers- I strongly disagree with holding this rally in the midst of health, housing & opioid crises. It won’t improve safety or reflect well on our community. Let’s not succumb to fear. Let’s be kind & remain focused on addressing our challenges. pic.twitter.com/09ZUw0NMTA
— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) August 13, 2020
The city has already instituted a number of new initiatives to help alleviate the concern and make the shelters and neighbourhood safer.
#CityofTO is continuing to work to address community concerns raised about the midtown temporary housing programs located at 55/65 Broadway Avenue and the Roehampton Hotel. News release: https://t.co/QofUwAQpTH pic.twitter.com/AOOy0ee5Vn
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) August 7, 2020
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has done the same.
“In response to community concerns, 53 Division has implemented Project Concord. The initiative sees an increase in police presence across neighbourhoods based on intelligence-led policing,” a TPS press release read, in part. “Officers from both the Service’s Priority Response Unit and Community Response Unit are patrolling at different times throughout the day and night in areas where there are increased calls to service. The Project is dynamic and fluid, with the ability to tailor resources based on crime data analysis.”
One of the shelters at 55/65 Broadway Ave. will be closing at the end of August. But the city did sign a two-year lease on the second shelter located in the former Roehampton Hotel.
For issues concerning the Roehampton shelter, the city can be contacted at clc.roehampton.residence@