Saturday, September 17, 2005

Valley is a little less homeless

People living in the valley has always been a touchy subject for us. Technically speaking there are bylaws that say that nobody can live in a city park which is what most of the Don is (zoned as undeveloped parkland). However the city has chosen to overlook the fact that people have been pitching tents in the lower Don mostly because they can't deal with people living on the street. Whenever the issue has been discussed by the Task Force we have been made to feel like crass, unfeeling opportunists. So the valley experiences an urban blight in places, especially on the west side of the river just south of the Bloor viaduct.

However two things have happened recently to change things a little. First , the storm that occurred in August found some of the campers up to their armpits in muddy, fast flowing water. They had to beat a hasty retreat to higher ground as their posessions were washed away. In one case the police marine unit had to rescue one of them who was stranded on a newly formed island. The sudden realization that, yes this is a floodplain, has dissuaded most of them from returning.

Secondly, the city has created a successful program called "Streets to Homes". Created to address the problem of homeless sleeping in Nathan Phillips Square, the program has removed people from the street by finding them permanent accommodation. Outreach workers from this program have approached the Don homeless and is now starting to place them in apartments.

This was reported in an article in Saturday's Globe and Mail (for some reason the article is not available on their website). So the upshot is that the homeless get a permanent residence and we get a valley that can be restored with a little less human interference. Our next move will be to ensure the "Streets to Homes" program is expanded to be "Ravines to Homes" as well.

No comments: