LEVY: Ignore the activists, clear out all the park encampments

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Last Thursday when I visited Trinity Bellwoods Park — a large section covered by tents, wooden structures and lots of garbage — I ran into a woman who was concerned about taking a baby stroller along a path through the Tent City.

She hesitated because one of the residents was occupying himself by throwing things at passersby.

Eventually, he moved away, and she continued on her way, gingerly.

I thought of that scene as I watched Tuesday’s spectacle by assorted activists when police and other city workers arrived at the park to conduct a long-overdue cleanout.

Using the homeless as their pawns — as they have for the 20 years during which I’ve written about the homeless file — they showed up by the dozens seemingly to cause trouble, and they ranted and raved all day on social media, wringing their hands in despair about the alleged ill-treatment of the homeless.

One wonders whether they really care about the homeless or their own agenda — seemingly keeping drug addicts addicted using harm reduction methods or keeping the homeless out in the open to encourage guilty politicians to throw more money at the poverty industry.

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If they really cared, would they let campers remain in unsanitary conditions where drug dealing and sexual and other violence is rampant and raging fires are far too common?

I forever find it a terrible irony that the activists say shelters are unsafe; yet they believe living in a public park is better for their homeless pawns.

This is nothing new. In 2001, former councillors Olivia Chow and Jack Layton pushed the same twisted logic with help from the street nurse Cathy Crowe and the often bordering-on-violent members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

The torch has just been passed to a younger brand of activist like those from the Encampment Support Network (ESN) along with leftist lawyers, doctors and the rabid left on council — who now with the help of social media — can call their like-minded leftists to mobilize and take footage that makes it seem like the police were brutish to the homeless.

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Mayor John Tory and council showed far too much restraint for too long — allowing the homeless to occupy Trinity Bellwoods and other downtown parks when there are pricey hotel shelters available to them. These are shelters where they’d have their own rooms, three meals a day and supports, including the ability to take their illegal drugs inside.

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And the shrieks of self-righteous indignation we were hearing Tuesday and Wednesday about the need for a phalanx of police officers relates to the activities of the activists not the homeless. The ESN bragged in a recent statement that the last time an encampment eviction was attempted at Lamport Stadium Park, “it was thwarted by an incredible force of solidarity between community members and their unhoused neighbours.”

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That said, at long last, Trinity Bellwoods Park is free of campers and being cleaned out for residents like the woman with the stroller who wish to walk or picnic there.

  1. Occupants and activists at a soon-to-be dismantled homeless encampment at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto on Tuesday, June 22 2021

    Large police presence clearing Trinity Bellwoods Park encampment

  2. A column of police officers clears a homeless encampment at the northern side of Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Ont. on Tuesday June 22, 2021.

    Mayor insists police response ‘reasonable’ during encampment eviction

  3. Workers take apart a homeless encampment at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto on June 22, 2021.

    WARMINGTON: Controversial homeless encampment cleared peacefully

Still, Tory and councillors should never forget that camping in public parks is illegal, that taxpaying residents deserve to use their parks without fear and set about cleaning out Alexandra Park, Dufferin Grove Park and Moss Park sooner rather than later.

The activists might rant and rave, but we need to remember it’s only ever been about them.

SLevy@postmedia.com

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