A few dozen people are staging a peaceful protest in front of Mayor Rob Ford’s office Friday to call on city officials to create more space for homeless people at Toronto’s shelters.
As part of the protest by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the demonstrators brought sleeping bags, blankets and basic supplies into city hall to set up a “vitally needed place of safety” for people who are unable to find a bed within Toronto’s shelter system.
“We are demanding that the city stop lying about the situation and pretending that there are enough beds to meet the needs that exist,” OCAP said in a statement. “Lives have been lost because the shelters are full, many more are at risk and OCAP is taking the necessary action to challenge this appalling neglect.”
In response to the demonstration, Ford said there are plenty of shelter beds in Toronto, so he doesn’t know why the group is camping out in front of his office.
As he spoke to reporters at the Canadian International Auto Show, Ford said there is enough space at shelters because some beds are not filled.
Meanwhile, police are monitoring the protest.
OCAP is vowing to occupy the space until the city deals with the situation, according to the statement.
The group wants to discuss the matter with city council and is asking council to hold an emergency session to address the “crisis” on the streets of Toronto.
In its statement, OCAP asked the public to join the protest and bring food supplies and blankets to city hall, or contact city council members to ask them to meet with the organization.
According to OCAP, 34 homeless people died in 2012 and six more have died this year.