No mass eviction planned for people living under Gardiner, city says

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The city has not set a firm deadline to forcibly remove people living in makeshift encampments beneath the Gardiner Expressway but if they do decide to pack up a place will be found for them to stay.

That message was part of a sit-down interview with senior staff from the city division responsible for shelter management on Tuesday, amid escalating public pressure to improve and expand existing services.

“Toronto has invested a lot of funds, resources and staffing to try and manage the current situation,” said Paul Raftis, general manager of the shelter, support and housing administration, speaking broadly about services for people experiencing homelessness. “That doesn’t mean that we couldn’t do more and we are constantly looking at other creative solutions.”

About two weeks ago people who set up tents or makeshift structures, including some under the Gardiner, were handed notices informing them they had 14 days to remove debris and personal goods or face “further enforcement” prompting fears that sweeping evictions were coming.

The city said that is not the case and the notices are handed out to let people know they are violating city rules and their possessions could be moved. He said the city will work to find them an alternate place to stay if they decide to leave.

“There is always a space to come in out of the cold,” he said, adding the division has also overhauled their internal communications to ensure people get faster access to all forms of shelter.

He said the division will conduct an operational review of winter services and plan to present the findings to city council later this year.

The Star’s May Warren spoke to people beneath the expressway to find out why they choose exposure to the elements over other forms of available shelter. Some said they desired privacy and independence. Others were not convinced other options were available.

“We’re pretty tight, pretty good people. We check in on each other, that’s kind of the reason to be here,” said Richard Smith, who lived in a green tent with his dog Pixie. He said he had not received a notice.

Brad Ross, the city’s chief communication officer, said eight people were given notices two weeks ago. The city regularly cleans up makeshift sites for health and safety reasons and the notices are not new and are used to alert people to the fact that the structures are a violation of city rules.

He said people’s possessions can be moved, but those items would be stored rather than tossed out. He added a ninth person was recently given a notice.

The fear of displacement became part of a public conversation around supporting people in need in a city with a severe shortage of affordable and supportive housing, one fuelled by the recent deaths of Crystal Papineau, 35, who was trapped in a clothing donation bin, and Hang Vo, who was run over by a garbage truck in an alley.

On Tuesday, front line workers and advocates, standing with city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Gord Perks and Josh Matlow, held a morning press conference at city hall. They said homelessness must be declared a humanitarian crisis and the city should call on all levels of government to provide immediate support.

Next Monday all city divisions will put forward their budget requests, including the shelter division. Staff have been asked to try to keep their budgets at 2018 levels.

“We don’t have the budget for additional services on top of what we are providing now,” Raftis said. He declined to outline their budget request.

Ross said when it comes to people in encampments the city has the “obligation to give them notice” but there is “a greater obligation” to make sure they are first offered whatever help is available.

Todd Orvitz, director of strategic and policy solutions, said the notices are not handed to people out of the blue.

“Streets to Homes staff are going to be out working with these people for a long period of time before the notices come out,” to determine what kinds of services they might need, he said. “They meet the clients where they are at.” That could include everything from helping them find shelter and transitional housing to reuniting them with family members, he said.

Raftis said some people move on right after a notice is given, others at the 14-day mark, in some cases the police are called and “then there is everything in between” and each case is handled differently.

With files from Francine Kopun

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter covering affordable and precarious housing. Follow her on Twitter: @emathieustar

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SIU clears two Toronto police officers in death of Danforth gunman, release more details on what happened on night of mass shooting

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The Special Investigations Unit has ruled that there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against two Toronto police officers in connection to the death of the Danforth gunman in July, 2018.

The police watchdog found that Faisal Hussain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 22, after he opened fire on a busy stretch of Danforth Ave., killing two people and leaving 13 others injured.

The rear window of a police cruiser was shattered when it was struck by a bullet during an exchange of gunfire between the police and Faisal Hussain after the Danforth shooting in 2018.
The rear window of a police cruiser was shattered when it was struck by a bullet during an exchange of gunfire between the police and Faisal Hussain after the Danforth shooting in 2018.  (Special Investigations Unit)

The report, released Wednesday, not only cleared the officers but gave graphic new details on what happened that night, as well as providing evidence photos.

A person first called 911 at 10 p.m. to report that “someone had been shot on the Danforth” at Pappas Grill.

Read more:

Police found AK-47 ammunition in Danforth shooter’s apartment, court documents say

More coverage of Danforth shooting

“The 911 communications centre was immediately flooded with other callers reporting a shooting on Danforth Ave. and that people were running or injured,” the report found. “One caller indicated that the shooter, Mr. Hussain, had stood on top of a woman and shot her multiple times in the back. At 10:05 p.m., another caller reported that Mr. Hussain was heading westbound on Danforth Ave. and was in possession of a black handgun.”

Two officers in a cruiser encountered Hussain on the west sidewalk of Bowden St. and approached him. Hussain fired at them multiple times and “fearing for their lives,” the two officers fired back, the report found.

One officer “moved to take cover behind the police vehicle and discharged his firearm, hitting the police cruiser’s rear passenger window, causing the glass to shatter and a projectile to become lodged in the window’s frame,” the report found.

“Mr. Hussain fled northbound on Bowden St. and then westbound on Danforth Ave.”

A few minutes later, Toronto police officers found Hussain’s body on Danforth Ave., in front of the Danforth Church, at 60 Bowden St. A black Smith and Wesson .40 calibre handgun and two fully loaded handgun magazines were found near his body.

An autopsy later confirmed the cause of death, the SIU said.

“I believe that (the officers) are credible and their accounts of the incident quite reliable because their statements were overwhelmingly consistent with the remainder of the evidence, including the statements of multiple civilian witnesses who witnessed or heard the exchange of gunfire,” SIU Director Tony Loparco wrote.

The SIU is an agency that investigates incidents involving police in which someone is killed, injured or accused of sexual assault.

MORE LATER

Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK

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‘What’s our new normal?’: Ontario student escapes California wildfire after mass shooting kills classmate

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As a cloud of devastation hung over the heads of students at Pepperdine University following a mass shooting which killed one of their own, a literal « orange glow » made its way toward the school.

Marlee Hewitt, a Windsor, Ont. native currently studying at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., landed in Detroit, Mich. Monday evening following a harrowing few days, after severe fires sparked near Paradise, which sits on the north-end of California. A second blaze emerged in and around Malibu.

She said the whirlwind of events started Friday, when she was informed by her residence advisor that she and everyone at the school would have to leave the campus immediately.

A friend of Hewitt’s sent her this photo of the wildfire overlooking California’s Pepperdine University. (Marlee Hewitt)

« They brought us down to the fieldhouse where I met up with another friend. We were looking at this plume of smoke coming towards campus, » said Hewitt, adding she had to quickly decide whether to escape or seek shelter on campus overnight.

She said she decided to leave, while many of her friends elected to stay.

« It was a very, very emotional time, very hard. It’s been quite a whirlwind. »

A member of the Sacramento County Coroner’s office looks for human remains in the rubble of a house burned at the Camp Fire, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (John Locher/Associated Press)

From campus, Hewitt was able to get to a friend’s house, where the two monitored news and looked at photos of the fire which were sent to them by other friends from the university.

« At first, they couldn’t see flames but they could see the orange glow of the fire coming toward them and I think that’s when people started to get very freaked out, » said Hewitt.

« It was obviously very hard for me watching the news and getting these pictures, worrying about my friends who were there. I was very worried for them. »

‘What’s our new normal?’

Reports of the wildfire emerged one day after a gunman entered a Southern California bar Wednesday night and shot and killed 12 people, including a sheriff’s sergeant, before turning the gun on himself.

Hewitt said the community at Pepperdine University is « very, very tiny » and everyone was left with a feeling of « melancholy. »

« It hung over everybody. Everyone, kind of, knows each other, So we had a prayer service and that’s when we heard of the news that a fellow classmate, Alaina, had passed away. »

People attend the procession for the Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was shot and killed in a mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, U.S., November 8, 2018. (Ringo Chiu/Reuters)

« And then to have this fire, it’s just been quite tolling on everyone’s emotions. »

She said it’s going to take a while for students at Pepperdine University to heal, adding the question of « what’s our new normal? » has been discussed among the school community.

« We’ll have to see what that’s like when we head back to campus. »

Father grateful for his daughter’s safety

Jeff Hewitt, Marlee’s father who lives in Windsor, had spent the entirety of Friday exchanging text messages with her daughter to ensure she was safe.

He said panic started setting in when cell phone service went down in California.

« She couldn’t text us. We couldn’t call her. And it was like, ‘Okay, what is happening?' » said Hewitt, adding it wasn’t until her daughter fled the Malibu area entirely that they were able to exchange messages again.

Jeff Hewitt, who picked up his daughter from the Detroit airport Monday night, says it was to see how the fire’s progression while being so far away from her. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

He added being so far away from his daughter during two « disasters » was a trying time for him, but is optimistic knowing his daughter’s safe. »

« Being 3,200 kilometeres away doesn’t make it any ea​sier, but everything’s going to turn out just fine. »

Marlee hopes to return to California after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. For now, she’ll be continuing her studies online.

The wildfire has left 42 confirmed deaths in its wake and hundreds of people unaccounted for.

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Non Mass Market Haul #5 | Pour bébé, maman et la maison

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Plus d’une année s’est écoulée depuis le dernier NMMH (scandale) !

Je reviens donc aujourd’hui avec des tas de merveilles, du fait main, du vintage, du seconde main, du made in France !

*cette vidéo contient des placements de produits pour Etsy *

✘ JE PORTE ✘

• Pull Helmut Lang (seconde main)

• BO Marine Mistake

✘ DANS CETTE VIDÉO ✘

• Mouchoirs en coton bio / God Save The Tea Time

• Combinaison en molleton / Ça C’est Vraiment Moi

• Sarouel / Ça C’est Vraiment Moi

• Body à noeud papillon / Ça C’est Vraiment Moi

• Pull Helmut Lang (seconde main)

• Boucles d’oreilles « Felicidad » Marine Mistake

• Bague « Manojo » / Marine Mistake

• Collier « Mariposa » / Marine Mistake

• Globe des années 50 (vintage)

• Housse de coussin Marram

• Miroir en macramé / The Wild World

• Figurines en céramique / Pamela Loops
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