Case 1: Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square at New City Hall

According to the survey conducted by the Yonge-Street Mission, youth who used downtown services felt there were changes happening on Yonge Street. They felt as though Yonge Street had become ‘cleaner’ and more gentrified, with oncoming pressure from the police. This creates the location on Yonge Street as less compelling and idealized for the homeless population. The decision to move locations of stay can be determined by external forces such as police pressure, or being banned from a particular location, as can be seen in the movement of the banning of Nathan Phillips Square.

On February 1, 2005, Toronto City Council voted on a proposal to ban homeless people from sleeping in Nathan Phillips Square. People sleep at City Hall because the shelters are full and conditions in many of them are dreadful. By removing the homeless from the Square, the politicians hope to remove a major political embarrassment from under their noses. They also sent a message to every cop, City official, and narrow-minded vigilante in Toronto that it is open season on the homeless.

– As sourced by the Ontario Coalition against Poverty

From this brief article, one is able to recognize that as a result of banning the homeless population from this particular location, it functions to serve the wants of the politicians rather than the needs of the homeless. Once again, those in higher authoritative positions can be seen to exert their power over those whom are in the most vulnerable state. As shelters are full and conditions are unappealing, those less fortunate have no other choice than to seek refuge in the City Hall vicinity and other public spaces.


Nathan Phillips Square (courtesy of Google Images)


About Ryerson On Yonge

A course in the Faculty of Arts, we have been studying the history of the neighbourhood around Yonge and Dundas, and Ryerson campus, in order to consider the social context and cultural importance of the new Student Learning Centre, which will occupy 341 through 355 Yonge Street. This blog is not an official Ryerson publication, and is a student-composed analysis of campus and its neighbourhood.
This entry was posted in On and Off the Street: Is Homelessness a Social Problem?. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Case 1: Nathan Phillips Square

  1. Pingback: On and Off the Street: Is Homelessness A Social Problem? | Ryerson On Yonge

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