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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Local Toronto BIA attacks proposed shelter. Local artist responds.

After a local BIA put up posters opposing a proposed local shelter a local artist designed others that can be used to show community support.

The Lakeshore Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) leaders in the South Etobicoke neighbourhood of New Toronto have apparently decided it is an ethical and worthwhile use of their partially publicly funded resources to print off posters opposing a proposed shelter for the homeless.

We looked at the attacks by two NIMBY Toronto neighbourhood groups on existing and planned shelters before in the article Proposed shelter in South Etobicoke faces NIMBY campaign.

One of these is to be built at 2950 & 2970 Lake Shore Blvd. W. just west of Islington Ave.

A mysterious new group with no contact information circulated a misleading flyer with a number of false claims on it throughout the local community.

As was noted in the previous article the list has almost nothing on it that actually provides shelter housing for the homeless and includes a number of things like a women's shelter, community centres, a senior citizen's advocacy group, a medical clinic, etc. These are not homeless shelters. Implying that they also, somehow, make the area more dangerous or are problematic is completely wrong-headed.

Grotesquely the list includes co-op and subsidized rental housing and, most shockingly, calls the nearby prison a "2,000 bed facility" as if it is a place the homeless can or should be able to check in and out of! This really tells you all you need to know about the sentiments at work here.

As we see above, the local BIA seems to be taking a similar view.

Given the description of what a BIA is supposed to be doing with the funds collected by the city from local business owners, it is questionable whether this is appropriate at all, but either way it would seem that a faction of the local business community is unconcerned with the terrible human toll that has been taken by the housing crisis in the city.

I have left a message regarding the ethics of this with the central Toronto BIA Office that can be reached at 416-392-1291. I will update this piece if or when there is a response.

A local artist and community activist, Erin Panjer, has designed a number of images that can be used in response.

She has said that these can be downloaded and reproduced freely. She has also said they can be altered to be used in other communities.

The fight for local shelters in communities across Toronto is a fight for basic decency and for the bare minimum that can be done to help those in desperate need.

It is time to take a stand and make sure that your neighbours and local businesses and politicians know what it is. If some local businesses do not care about those in the community in need, let them know you will take your money to those that do.



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