Public Statement Against Encampment Evictions from DMG

November 26, 2020

Dear Mayor John Tory and Councillor Ana Bailao,

DMG is a grassroots arts non-profit based in West Queen West, just east of Parkdale in the Toronto Media Arts Centre creative hub. We serve a membership of over 650 marginalized artists in Toronto who are working to obtain skills, resources and community support for creative expression through playful media.

A significant number of our members are or have been unhoused, or have faced housing precarity and income insecurity. We have heard their frustrations with the inadequate and burdensome systems they’re subjected to as they seek solutions for themselves. As an organization serving people who are at various intersections of marginalized identities and experiences, including people who are gender-marginalized, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+, who have faced systemic barriers to employment housing and the basic necessities of life, we strongly believe that people have the right to determine the safest housing situation for themselves.

Community and mutual aid efforts to protect the lives of people living in encampments should guide the city’s resources. Instead, the City is choosing to invest staff time and effort in dismantling homes and destabilizing people who are acting in response to a decades-long housing crisis caused by failures of public policy.

In our 6-year-long involvement in the TMAC project, we have seen firsthand how the City’s aversion to legal risk jeopardizes communities, strips supports from marginalized groups, and undermines grassroots organizing around the health and wellbeing of individuals on the margins. In the case of this campaign of displacement, this aversion will cost lives.

Stop evicting people from encampments. Provide residents with survival gear, heat sources, and access to sanitation facilities. Then, let’s work on real long-term solutions for safe shelters and rent-geared-to-income housing. Follow the lead of the unhoused – they’re the most vulnerable people in the City’s heartless campaign, and also experts on their own needs.

We await the City’s response to our collective demand for a moratorium on clearing encampments.

DMG board of directors
Izzie Colpitts-Campbell
Soha El-Sabaawi
Santo Aveiro-Ojeda
Jayd Matyas
Kaitlin Tremblay
Natalie Zina Walschots
Shel Kahn

Jennie Robinson Faber, executive director