Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

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Domenico Saxiea spent his 51st birthday this past week in his tent at Alexandra Park, where he’s been living for more than a year.

The self-appointed guardian of the tent city shantytown — which has pretty much taken over this park near Bathurst and Dundas Sts. — looked like the winter had taken its toll on him and he is much thinner than when we first met in September 2020.

He showed us the large cut on his cheek — the result of a “bad altercation” a few days earlier with an individual who had a weapon. He said he’d never seen the person before.

Saxiea said he’d much rather be in his own apartment with his service dog on his birthday where he’d make himself steak and eggs for breakfast — and where he could have friends over.

He said some tent dwellers are “using COVID as an excuse” when in fact they’re out there because the shelter system is so bad — like a “jail” presided over by disrespectful staff. He’s been on the streets for more than three years residing at shelters such as 545 Lakeshore, George St. and down at the Ex.


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Saxiea said the Encampment Support Network volunteers are “good people” — who bring them water, food and all kinds of other provisions, and who’ve embarrassed the city.

  1. Tent cities are popping up in many locations in Toronto. Here, a people living at Lamport Stadium Park are pictured on Sept. 24, 2020.

    LEVY: Homeless in tent cities used as pawns in affordable housing fight

  2. A Toronto Fire Prevention officer, Toronto Police and electricians from Black and McDonald were on hand at the south end of the tent city in Alexandra Park after discovering electrical wiring from a park lamp post was feeding electricity inside part of a large white tent encampment on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

    LEVY: Tent dwellers flood city parks as weather heats up

  3. A group living in a tent city at Lamport Stadium Park in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

    LEVY: Tent cities out of control in Toronto parks

He also vows not to let police on horses come and clear out his tent structures as they recently did in Lamport Stadium Park.

He now has plenty of company in the park.

During two visits last week, I was astounded to see the park has turned into a veritable shantytown.

The grass was up to my knees and there are so many tents and wood structures everywhere — more than 70 — that it has become obvious the park is really not for ordinary users anymore.


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So much for spending $220 a night per resident to park the homeless in fancy hotel shelters or to allegedly improve shelter standards.

Spending millions of dollars accomplishes nothing if our politicians and the bureaucrats refuse to get shelter users off the cycle of dependency and to seriously tackle their drug addictions. Safe injection and drug overdose prevention sites where addicts are injected with their illegal drugs, as I’ve reiterated many times, are not the answer.

How about making the badly behaved shelter users responsible for their behaviour?

Allowing the activists to set the agenda and enable tent dwellers to remain in parks is not the answer either. Unfortunately our politicians appear to be intimidated by activists.


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It’s little wonder the activists act as if they rule the tent cities.

For example, on my first visit to Alexandra Park this past week, I ran into a woman quietly sitting on a bench with a tarp and what appeared to be her meager possessions. She told me she was awaiting the delivery of her own tent by volunteers — a tent she intended to set up in the park because she’s afraid to be in shelters.

To ensure accuracy, I asked city shelter officials for a running count of the number of tent structures and the number of people living in Alexandra park.

Spokesman Kris Scheuer came back with an estimate of 110 structures and only six to 11 people actually sleeping in all of these structures. She said at least 79 people have been referred inside in the last month.


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If they were referred, they haven’t stayed.

When I returned on Friday around lunchtime — when the Anishnawbe Street Patrol was there providing meals and the tent dwellers were seemingly just waking up — I counted at least 60 people coming out of their tents to get a meal, walk their dogs or to walk around to other tents.

I saw one tent dweller return on his bike with bags full of food, another being visited by an activist and a man sitting at a picnic table drinking whiskey.

If the city intended to clean up the parks to make them usable this summer, they’ve clearly lost that battle.

You don’t have to look any further than the sad and unseemly deterioration of Alexandra Park.


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