top of page

Goulding Community Centre Encampments



Last week, our office was made aware of encampments set up at Goulding Community Centre, on the SE corner of the site. Earlier this week, another tent was reported on the SW corner. With their proximity to a space that many families and children use throughout the spring and summer, we understand the heightened concern of this issue and are actively working to share your concerns.


Following the report, we promptly communicated the issue to the City's Encampment office, who has since been alerting and working with many stakeholders, such as Toronto Police Services, Toronto Fire Services, Parks Forestry and Recreation, and Street Outreach Team. Multiple site visits were made to the encampment sites collectively by the divisions involved to form a relationship, educate, and help them work towards a permanent housing solution such as Rent-Geared to Income Housing Applications.


As much as we love spring weather, as the City warms up it also experiences a rise in encampments, and Willowdale is one of many wards in Toronto feeling the impact. With very limited to no available shelter space and winter shelter programs ending, there is currently high pressure on the shelter system and unfortunately, none to offer to unhoused individuals immediately. An encampment cannot be removed/relocated without an alternate shelter secured for the unhoused, and the City is under the scrutiny of the Ombudsman's 2023 report: https://www.ombudsmantoronto.ca/investigative-report/investigation-into-the-citys-clearing-of-encampments-in-summer-2021/ 


In Waterloo/Kitchener, the Supreme Court ruled that clearing encampments without sufficient shelter beds violates charter rights: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/region-waterloo-kitchener-encampment-court-decision-charter-1.6731000


It is also important to consider that other issues such as mental health and addiction may compound the difficulty when it comes to working with unhoused individuals, and outreach staff are trained to take the necessary time required to provide the immediate supports they need as well as to build rapport so that they can be transitioned out of the location.


This is not to say that community members' right to security, safety and free use of community space and amenities are disregarded. While working under guidelines, the encampment office actively works to provide support for the unhoused and prioritizes the safety and well-being of the unhoused and the community. They continue to pursue a solution that will not further harm vulnerable people who are sleeping at the park, while offering indoor spaces when they become available.


With the rising number of unhoused individuals across the city and limited resources available, encampments are prioritized for action, and transition into shelters is based on the imminent risk posed to the public and the unhoused - such as aggressive behaviour, proximity to children's spaces and the presence of aggressive animals.


The encampments at Goulding CC are being prioritized based on their level of risk, and we continue to advise residents to make reports to 311 to escalate their concerns. The more specific your reports are, the better informed the encampment office will be to involve the correct city divisions and address the issue at hand. Please report any threats to safety to 911, suspicious or otherwise unsafe behaviour to Police non-emergency at 416-808-2222, and any fire hazards to Fire Prevention – North Office at 416-338-9150. If you see someone in need of mental health support, you can call 211. 


Our office is planning a visit to the Cummer Drop-Inn with city staff to see how we can better support the program and its many clients. We will keep the community apprised of any upcoming opportunities to volunteer or donate to this important work. Unfortunately, this Drop-Inn is the ONLY local service for the unhoused in Willowdale. 


The city is already spending tremendous resources on these challenges. As an example, there are several shelter hotels that cost us $96,000 per room per year. We have not closed these shelters which were meant to be temporary because the need is still there and we do not have sufficient alternative spaces available. The city is trying to determine how many shelters we need to build, at what scale and in which locations. Please let us know if you have any ideas for solving this growing challenge.


Our office will continue to amplify your concerns sent in by email and phone to the encampment office. I plan to meet with the general manager of Toronto Shelter & Support Services to discuss shelter capacity and address rising homelessness in our city. I am also planning on co-organizing a roundtable with faith communities on how they can replicate refugee transitional housing as hosted by the Peoples Church. We all need to pitch in to alleviate the pressure on our shelter system and work towards community-based solutions at scales where communities can participate in meaningful ways.


When homelessness first started becoming visible in Willowdale, prior to my election, I hosted a webinar for our community on how to engage with our unhoused neighbours. I know many people still aren’t sure what is safe and how they can interact with these neighbours. I think it is time to host another webinar on this topic, as I do not think we can fix this quickly and we want to be a kind and compassionate community. If anyone is interested in helping to lead such a workshop, please let my office know and we can work together!  


92 views

1 Comment


Two tents belonging to pleasant homeless people were burned down to the ground destroying all their worldly possessions shortly before Lilly took office. Willowdale residents are hostile towards homeless. What has happened to the now very expensive 175 Cummer modular homes for senior people experiencing homelessness? Why has that not been built despite exhaustive planning and zoom meetings with the prior administration? Who assumes the cost of all that storage …. Oh yes, that would be us the taxpayers.

Like
bottom of page