By Annie Arnone
The installation of planters on Ryerson’s campus sidewalk has resulted in the forced removal of a community member, Jason, who has been using the corner of Victoria and Dundas streets as a place of shelter for almost a decade.
On Wednesday, Toronto Police Services received a call about an “unwanted guest” in front of the Tim Hortons on Victoria Street. Upon arrival, they found Jason—who had set up shelter in front of the store for the past several months. He was told to vacate the area, as planters were to be installed in the same location.
Jason did not wish to disclose his full name to The Eyeopener but said that he is now forced to relocate the home he has set up.
“I’ll be OK, but I need to find a new place to stay,” he said. The area in front of the restaurant is sheltered from wind and rain. Jason kept his belongings stacked under blankets up against a support beam.
According to Mark Garner, the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, the planters were brought in as an attempt to get Jason “help.”
“Jason has been deemed a chronic homelessness issue in our area, he’s got dental issues, various mental health issues, he’s been at that space for close to 10 years…if we don’t do something for him, he’s going to die on the street,” said Garner.
He added that his team has been attempting to get Jason into community housing for years, but Jason never accepted their offer.
“The planters were to let him know that this was not a location he could be in—this is not our approach to push homeless people out of the area, this was a targeted focus for Jason.”
But some members of the Ryerson community voiced their opinions about the situation on Twitter—disagreeing with Garner’s tactics.
Hey what the fuck Jason bothers literally no one who complained about this
— Cocoa Soup @ Astera (@tamamonokama) March 22, 2018
Omg!!!!!! NOOOO! My heart is broken </3 ):
— Jules (@juliastefanska) March 23, 2018
If anything that man has made me spend more @TimHortons so that he would have something to eat. He accepts food with the most genuine thanks and does not interact with patrons unless they interact with him. For shame.
— Lindsay Boeckl (@LindsayBoeckl) March 22, 2018
In December 2017, residents criticized the city of Seattle, Wash. for installing bike racks they said were only for the purpose of deterring homeless camping.
More to come.