Toronto, Canada's largest city, was also home to its own "Tent City" until September 2002, when the residents of Tent City were evicted by the owner of the property, Home Depot. It was situated in the downtown core of Toronto, near the waterfront, and was home to hundreds of people who were homeless. Many of the residents built their own shelters or brought tents and some were even able to have certain luxuries like computers and television by illegally tapping into the city's power grid. A number of critics, including some citizens of Tent City, noted that many people in Tent City were substance abusers who chose to live there because they could spend their money exclusively on drugs. Some residents also resorted to prostitution to supplement their income and support their habits.
Tent City was mainly self-governed, as police would not usually enter it unless a major crime was committed. One of the oldest residents of Tent City became the appointed "Mayor" and oversaw the operation of the city and helped deal with the crime that did occur. In one instance a resident who was leaving Tent City sold his shelter twice to two separate individuals, making a profit for himself and leaving the buyers to resolve the dispute. There were also citizens who turned to theft in order to make money. Despite these conditions, there were some residents who felt more secure in Tent City than they did in the Government shelters and chose to live in a self-regulated area where they could defend themselves.
When Tent City was closed, Home Depot evicted the residents with private security guards. They were allowed to briefly return to their homes to retrieve their possessions before being permanently removed from the area. This action was criticized by activist groups as an attempt by Home Depot to clear land to develop a downtown big box outlet. After the eviction, the residents were dispersed and forced to find new areas downtown where they could live or to move into shelters. Three years later, at the end of 2005, the land remained undeveloped and Home Depot has since opened a downtown outlet at Gerrard Square—a mall that sits on the corner of Pape and Gerrard. Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, a writer, abandoned his middle class lifestyle to live in Tent City for a year. He received very little outside assistance and begged for money to sustain himself. He detailed his experiences in a book, listed in the link below.Information on the closure of Tent City Toronto Information on Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-city Shantytown by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, a writer who lived in Tent City for a year before its closure.

External Links

Video Links

Subtext:Real Stories
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six

Media Articles

Archived Here

Other Local Innovative Approaches to Homelessness

Street City

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License