Toronto is hiring more private security to patrol public parks for encampments

Toronto is hiring more private security to patrol public parks for encampments

The City of Toronto is looking for private security companies to patrol its parks and investigate attempted encampments, security risks and criminal activity.

The latest call follows a similar attempt by the city in May to find a company that provides security in city parks.

The city has come under heavy criticism following a tender (RFP) to hire private security firms to prevent camps. The RFP failed to attract qualified bidders and two companies were given short-term contracts to patrol parks, including Trinity Bellwoods Park, Lamport Stadium Park, Alexandra Park and Dufferin Grove.

Amid lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 and the ongoing housing crisis, large camps multiplied across the city, with many homeless in shelters feeling unsafe. The city of Toronto was heavily criticized by many, who viewed police officers’ tactics to clear camps as violent and unnecessary.

A new RFP released by the city on Wednesday says it is now looking for a company to provide security services in parks across Toronto. Some of the parks listed are Trinity Bellwoods Park, Alexandra Park, and Allan A. Lamport Stadium Park.

The recent post drew some violent reactions on social media.

Nausea: City of Toronto hires private security companies to patrol and target homeless people in public parks.

Imagine if the city were to spend its resources just helping homeless people find housing instead of criminalizing them for living in poverty.

— Naheed Dosani (@NaheedD) August 29, 2022

Others indicated that the city is acting appropriately in protecting the public.

They protect the public who want to use the parks and protect the public space from destruction. There is only so much the city can do to encourage homeless people in camps to accept help.

— Ajf (@AlexFriel4) August 29, 2022

Some people said that increased security does little to prevent homelessness.

This is nonsense. What exactly are they protecting the public from? See that there is poverty and homelessness?

— Jiri Fiala (@privid_inc) August 29, 2022

Company employees are responsible for “monitoring and patrolling” the parks, as well as “observing, investigating, and responding to possible camp attempts, security risks, and criminal activity.”

The posting also states that staff must “legally arrest people where necessary and hand them over to the police as soon as possible.”

They must enforce the Trespass to Property Act, which “may include the physical removal of anyone found trespassing or engaging in criminal activity.”

The RFP notes that the guards “will assist the homeless [sic] by connecting them to the city’s services.”