City has ‘no timeline’ for enforcing trespassing order as demonstrators continue to camp out in Nathan Phillips Square


Chris Fox, CP24.com


Published Tuesday, July 7, 2020 4:36PM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, July 7, 2020 4:42PM EDT

City officials remain hopeful that a group of demonstrators that have been camped out in Nathan Phillips Square for weeks will “voluntarily” remove their tents and comply with a trespassing order issued last Friday, according to a spokesperson.

The protesters, who are part of the group “Afro-Indigenous Rising Collective,” set up dozens of tents in the square following a peaceful protest on June 19 and have been there ever since.

They have already raised nearly $49,000 to support their efforts through a GO Fund Me campaign and say that they will continue “occupying” the square in protest of police brutality.

The city allowed the non-permitted demonstration to continue for weeks but on Friday it issued those in the square a trespassing notice, ordering them to remove their encampments by Monday.

The protesters, however, have remained in the square and have indicated to CP24 that they have no intention of leaving.

In a statement provided to CP24 on Tuesday, city spokesperson Brad Ross said that there are currently no “timelines on next steps” and that the city remains hopeful that the protesters will comply with the order of their own volition.

“The city is continuing to assess the issue in Nathan Phillips Square, working with the group in a way that will allow them to continue their peaceful protest, but without tents, open flames and generators,” he said. “No timelines on next steps, but the city remains hopeful the group will voluntarily remove tents pursuant to the notices they have been provided.”

In its trespassing order issued last week, the city said that it has been working to “balance the protesters’ freedoms of expression and assembly with various health and safety concerns, the general public’s rights to access and enjoy the square and upcoming anticipated conflicting uses of the square,” including a permitted event scheduled for tomorrow.

It said that should the protesters not comply with the order, the city’s “enforcement steps may include removal of any property, including tents.”

Violators of the order could also face fines of up to $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act.

“The City of Toronto recognizes the rights of any group or individual to participate in lawful expression and gatherings at the square. To be clear, the requirements of the attached notice do not prevent any person from engaging in lawful gatherings and protests,” the order said.