City crews demolish homeless encampment under Gardiner Expressway

City crews cleared out a homeless encampment on Wednesday under the Gardiner Expressway downtown following a fire in a tent in the area on the weekend.

“We cleared that camp today because our chief concern was another fire could result in injury or death,” says Brad Ross, the city of Toronto’s chief communications officer.

The encampment was in the area of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Lower Simcoe Street. Crews, along with heavy equipment, went in on Wednesday morning.

Ross said city staff had served people living in the encampment with an eviction notice in January that said they had 14 days to leave. He said erecting tents on city property is not permitted and there was a lot of debris scattered around the area.

City staff waited to remove tents from the camp until the weather had begun to improve, he added.

He said the city did not know how many people were living there.

Ross said staff from the city’s Streets to Home program, part of its shelter, support and housing administration division, have been working with people who lived there to help them find shelter.

If they do not want shelter, staff will help them obtain identification, he said.

Piles of bikes, tarps, blankets, mattresses and boxes could be seen as crews worked to clear the area on Wednesday.

Ross said staff ensured that everyone had left their tents before heavy equipment came in to clear the area.

Eviction notices have been sent to people living in other encampments in Toronto, Ross said.

Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said the fire did not cause any injuries and was deemed to be not criminal in nature.

“It occurred, we may have attended, but it didn’t require a police report,” she added.

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