Reporting Public Activities of Concern
As Stewards you may encounter activities that should be reported to the Lead Steward who may report them to the TNS Coordinator for action because they may be:
- contravening Parks by-laws
- causing safety issues for stewards and park users
- harming the natural environment.
Examples of these activities include:
- illegal dumping
- wild foraging of plants (collecting plants to be eaten or sold for food)
- encroachment (homeowners who are gardening the ravine or throwing their waste materials onto parkland)
- evidence of drug use
- dogs off-leash
- graffiti (especially hate graffiti)
- vandalism of city property
- evidence of prostitution
- concerns for the safety and wellness of an individual(s) encountered at the site.
The Lead Steward should report the problem to 311, then report the activity to the TNS Coordinator, who will advise the City Stewardship Contact so that action can be taken and directed to the right department and people within the city. In the case of a serious situation where harm or injury has occurred or is possible, call 911.
The purpose of this section on “Encampments” is to assist Stewards on how to respectfully and safely deal with an encampment at their stewardship site. For various complex social, health and economic reasons some people are putting up tents and living in ravines and natural areas. As Stewards you may come upon them while carrying out your volunteer work.
The City’s approach to encampments is a multidisciplinary effort with staff from Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Transportation Services, Solid Waste Management Services, and Shelter, Support and Housing Administration with support from Municipal Licensing and Standards, and Toronto Police Service to ensure the safety of all.
The City’s Streets to Homes outreach staff and external agencies work with individuals daily to conduct wellness checks and offer people sleeping outside access to inside space in advance of any move of an encampment site.
Suggested steps to follow include:
- Note the location and details of the encampment, take a photo if you can.
- Inform your Lead Steward who will report it to the City Stewardship Contact.
- Don’t engage with the people living there.
- The Steward and/or City Stewardship contact should call or email 311 to report the encampment.
What usually follows from this reporting is:
- 311 staff will get in touch with the local city by-law enforcement officer.
- By-law enforcement officer will go to the site to investigate.
- By-law enforcement officer, once they confirm encampment, will inform the Parks Ambassador that there is an encampment.
- The Parks Ambassador will engage the City’s Streets to Homes outreach staff, or an external agency will go and speak with the people in the encampment.
The City’s Streets to Homes outreach staff priority is to make sure of the health and safety of the people living in the encampment. They will engage with the people and see what they need and if they can help them to get to a safe inside space. One of these external agencies the Streets to Homes contracts with is The Salvation Army’s The Gateway which runs the Gateway’s Street Outreach Team. This team employs former homeless people to work with people living in encampments.