Poverty activists targeted a pop-up luxury dining event located next to the site of a former homeless camp.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty dubbed Friday’s protest “Dinner With A View… Of The Rich.”
It took place alongside a pop-up known as “Dinner With a View,” in which a minimum $550 purchase allowed a party of four to nosh in a clear heated dome under the Gardiner Expressway.
The three-course gourmet meal comes from former “Top Chef Canada” winner Rene Rodriguez.
The poverty group promised its own free three-course meal while offering a “view of the brazenness of the wealthy and the brutality of the city” while demanding adequate shelters and rent-geared-to-income housing.
“They’re doing like a fancy version of a tent city,” said one protester holding a sign that read ‘House the homeless not the rich.’
“These rich people can come in here and buy meals that are $550, sit under domes and basically gentrify homelessness.”
Dinner organizers say their elaborate event takes place on property run by a charity, not by the City of Toronto which recently forced the removal of a nearby makeshift camp. The area is known as The Bentway, which offers year-round public events including a skate trail, markets and festivals.
“Protests happen all over the city. The event is not a city event,” said City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross.
“Homelessness and encampments are one thing, this event at the Bentway is completely separate. It’s just that the location happens to be under the same highway but it has nothing to do with one or the other.”
The event is happening two kilometres from where the encampment was removed.
“I think that it’s a big statement to be able to have money and be able to occupy the space under the Expressway and to not have money, you get kicked out at the end of the day,” said another protester.
In a statement acknowledging the planned protest, the dinner organizers added they were “no way involved with the decision-making process” to remove the encampments and they are sympathetic to those impacted by the City’s actions.
The “Dinner With a View” event runs until May 2. Another “Dinner With a View” event is slated for Montreal from April 16 to May 18.
With files from News Staff