Toronto’s Ombudsman to investigate park encampment clearings

By Dilshad Burman

The office of Toronto’s Ombudsman announced Tuesday that it has launched an investigation into the city’s clearing of encampments in some of its parks.

Kwame Addo said they have received complaints about the way the city handled encampment evictions and the City Manager has been formally notified of the investigation.

“The investigation will focus on how the City of Toronto planned the encampment clearings, engaged stakeholders, and communicated with the public, as well as the policies and procedures that guided its actions,” the Ombudsman’s office said in a release.

Those who were involved and affected by the evictions will also be spoken to as part of the investigation. However, the probe will stop short of reviewing the conduct of Toronto police officers, “as this is beyond the mandate of Ombudsman Toronto.”

The city’s encampment clearings earlier this summer led to protests and violent clashes between those advocating for the homeless and Toronto police, particularly at Lamport Stadium, Alexandra Parkand Trinity Bellwoods Park. Several people were arrested during the clearings.

The city carried out evictions with a large compliment of police officers along with city staff, that sparked intense criticism from advocates, including activist and author Desmond Cole.

“It’s just another shameless display of the criminalization of poverty in the city and more of Mayor Tory’s attempt to hide poverty instead of dealing with it as he’s supposed to,” he said at the time.

Earlier this month, the city revealed it spent almost $2 million removing homeless encampments from three parks — funds advocates say could have been better used to provide those experiencing homelessness with affordable housing.

Members of the public who would like to weigh in can write to Ombudsman Toronto at or call 416-392-7062.

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