Sweeping new municipal powers that target people who are homeless have been quietly tucked into a proposed amendment to the omnibus City of Toronto Streets By-law.
The justification for the proposed amendments to the Streets By-law is to “harmonize” similar by-laws that are still in force in each of the seven former municipalities that were merged in 1998 to create the current mega-city of Toronto. While the stated goal of the harmonization process is to streamline regulation and create a single, consistent by-law to regulate activity on public streets, none of the former municipalities targeted activities associated with homelessness by banning “camping,” “dwelling,” or “lodging” in public places.
A similar by-law in the City of Victoria was struck down in 2009 by the British Columbia Supreme Court, which found that the anti-camping by-law violated S7 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which protects life, liberty and security of person.
The Toronto by-law is slated for public consultation on September 14th (North York Civic Centre), September 15th (Metro Hall) and September 19th (Scarborough Civic Centre).