The City of Santo’s Disputed Camps

The City of Santo’s Disputed Camps

Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.

“There is no question that security is very serious about preventing illegal encampments or illegal activity,” said Coun. Joe Mihevc (Ward 11).

“However, once a camp has been established, there’s the question of whether or not security will intervene to arrest people or move them out for an appropriate response,” he said, adding that it’s up to police.

“If they are doing things that violate the city’s policy, they are subject to investigation and discipline,” Mihevc added.

The council heard a litany of allegations, some made by residents, others by a legal observer working with a local group advocating for the homeless. The legal observer told the council he was provided with complaints about camps and other illegal behaviour from the UAW, which represents the city’s workers.

Security didn’t move the camp away from the sidewalk. Instead, they posted police officers on the sidewalk while they made their own arrests, the legal observer said.

A security officer was brought to council to address all of the concerns brought up by the legal observer, Mihevc said. “This was a response,” he said.

Police confirmed they have a policy to move encampments away from sidewalks, but didn’t provide any evidence of that or any other actions they took, he added.

Coun. Janice di Santo (Ward 2) says she believes the city should be taking more aggressive action.

“Security for illegal encampments is not just for emergency situations,” she said. “For the most part, that includes illegal encampments.”

“To me, this should be a wake-up call,” she said.

The legal observer noted that while security didn’t move the camp, other officers moved people from the camp into a van blocking the sidewalk for two hours.

“This action is dangerous,”

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