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LETTER: Lots to be learned when it comes to helping the homeless

Instead of responding with riot squads and police cavalry, we must ask ourselves why these people are encamping, says reader
2021-04-01 NC Milligans Pond 3
Several people are currently living at the homeless encampment at Milligan's Pond

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is from Christopher Mansour. 

Homeless people are not the alien trash our municipalities are making them out to be whenever they crush their encampments in places like Montreal, Trinity Bellwoods Park, or Milligan’s Pond.

Nearly two weeks ago, Toronto Mayor John Tory unleashed a riot squad of police cavalry to intimidate and frighten a homeless group of people and their supporters inside Trinity Bellwoods Park to enforce an eviction order. To quote one camper, “We are humans who need a place to live.”

Drones, police, and horses filled a small area newly inhabited by a small group of homeless people who, when faced with a global pandemic and lack of adequate shelters, opted to build their own outdoors shelters out of the way of everyone else.

It is precisely why people of good conscience should be angry at administrations like our own city’s. Today, I drove past the old Uptown Theatre and saw a small number of homeless people camping in the vestibule on a cool day.

Instead of responding with riot squads and police cavalry, we must ask ourselves why these people are encamping? The answer is simply because there are too few shelters to house them and most of us are too cruel to tolerate them.

Why are we using the police to threaten them? The use of a militant police force is undoubtedly to persecute people with mental illness — another favourite target of disability bigots.

Then there’s the issue of inconvenience: homeless people are another inconvenient truth. People deem them ‘dirty,’ ‘loathsome,’ and ‘reprobates.’ It’s why John Tory always skirts the issue of not allowing them a tiny corner of the city.

No one wants to be reminded of the duty to help them, which could be accomplished with proper housing and income support, even job finding. We could learn from British Columbia’s example of signing a memorandum between the government and the municipalities to give these people adequate housing.      

Christopher Mansour