Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

City of Toronto trying to resolve the ‘complex issue’ peacefully

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When we last left Laura Stone in December she had dealt with more than six months of mayhem from largely drug-addicted tent dwellers living in the Moss Park tent city.

She’d been harassed, assaulted and her Shuter St. property — close to the north end of the park — had been vandalized repeatedly.

Stone is not her real last name. She asked me to change it because she says she’s already been punched in the face, spit on repeatedly and even attacked at knifepoint.

Since last December, the 36-year-old says nothing has changed in what is supposed to be a public park — she’s had a window on what she calls a “hotspot of lawlessness,” which she feels is “non-stop.”

A big concern right now, she says, is a woman who’s been hoarding and allegedly abusing multiple dogs right before her eyes. She claims she can hear the yelps as the dogs are being kicked and punched at night.

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Stone says the woman owns “at minimum” seven dogs that “run rampant” all day and night.


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“The dogs are routinely having more puppies and it’s just a horrible cycle for the dogs,” she says.

Stone says the dogs regularly come at her and her dog and she’s made several bite reports to 311 as well as contacting Animal Services, city parks staff and her councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam, numerous times to no avail.

In a March 29 email to Wong-Tam’s assistant Robin Buxton-Potts, Stone said more tents are “appearing daily” and asked why the campers are being allowed to “terrorize an entire neighbourhood.”

In a series of complaints to 311 this past week, Stone said the dogs are running across Shuter at night to lunge at her and her dog. The dogs are “unsupervised 24/7,” she wrote.

Repeated emails in February resulted in a response from the city’s encampment point person, Dan Breault, who thanked her for her patience as they “continue to try to peacefully solve this complex issue.”

She said she feels city officials are “enabling” dogs to be abused.

  1. Tents set up by the homeless are seen in Moss Park in downtown Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.

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  3. Part of the encampment at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen St. is pictured on Nov. 25, 2020.

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“No one will help … no one will respond,” she said Thursday, contending no one cares.

She says she’s being targeted by the dog owner now after telling her — after several days of having to deal with the unsupervised dogs — to “put the (crack) pipe down and pay attention to the poor dogs being neglected.”


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I might note here that, contrary to Breault’s contentions, it would not be the slightest bit complex if city officials actually respected taxpaying citizens and their own bylaws that make camping in public parks illegal.

In addition to the dog attacks, since when do they allow people, regardless of whether they are suffering from mentally health or addiction issues, to openly put vulnerable dogs in danger of being run over or attacked or abused — if the allegations are true.

Andrea Gonsalves, responding on behalf of Toronto Animal Services (TAS) and the city’s shelter division, said Thursday TAS is aware of complaints regarding dogs at the Moss Park encampment and at this time, is actively working with the city’s multi-divisional team to identify the best way to provide support for this situation.

She said local residents should continue to voice their concerns through 311 so they city can be fully apprised of the situation.

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Gonsalves added that the city has pet-friendly shelters and will continue to offer these options to people in encampments as they are encouraged to come inside.

Wong-Tam responded through her chief of staff, Buxton-Potts, claiming her office was made aware of the complaint (only) Tuesday and has told staff the report of dogs owned by encampment residents randomly attacking people in Moss Park “is very concerning and completely unacceptable.”

She said staff have indicated that they have attended Moss Park on numerous occasions about this issue, but it has been “challenging to gain compliance on the dogs off leash issue” when individuals are dealing with homelessness, substance abuse or mental health.

Wong-Tam says she’s made it clear the city cannot leave this dangerous situation unattended — that a resolution needs to be found “immediately” before someone gets seriously hurt or worse.


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