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Judge dismisses application from Toronto's homeless to suspend ban on encampments

Pedestrians make their way through the tent encampent at Sanctuary Toronto on Friday May 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

A judge has dismissed an application by homeless individuals and their advocates to allow encampments in Toronto parks during the pandemic.

The group – which includes 14 people living in encampments and two activist organizations – sought an interim order to allow the homeless individuals to stay in parks until a constitutional challenge of a city bylaw is heard.

The bylaw bans living or camping in parks after midnight.

Justice Paul Schabas says the group hasn’t met the standard of establishing harm to the public interest that would justify suspending the city’s ability to enforce its bylaw.

Schabas says suspending the bylaw would unjustifiably tie the city’s hands in dealing with encampments that raise serious health and safety concerns during the pandemic.

Hundreds of men and women have left shelters since the pandemic began and have been living in encampments that have sprouted up across the city.