A notice, issued by City Manager Joe Pennachetti under the Trespass to Property Act, is being distributed at this time to Occupy Toronto protesters who have been camping out at St. James Park. Police are handing out the notice tent-by-tent, which explains that “the City has determined that it cannot allow the current use of St. James Park to continue. The purpose of this letter is to advise all those who are occupying St. James Park that the time has come to remove your tents, structures, equipment and personal belongings from the park.”The City has also just issued a press release, which reads in part:
The City has worked to balance people’s right to protest with public safety. Residents and businesses have been very reasonable and patient. Protesters have been very peaceful and the City is very appreciative of this. However, it’s time this came to a peaceful end.
The protesters have not approached the City nor has the City given permission to use St. James Park for the type of activity that has been ongoing there since October 15. Many activities at St. James Park are contrary to City bylaws, policies and practices with respect to the use of City parks and other public spaces.
Protesters are required to remove all tents and other structures, equipment and debris immediately.
Today’s eviction notice follows on Mayor Rob Ford’s remarks yesterday, indicating that he’d be asking protesters to disband and leave the park peacefully and in short order. Earlier today, a contingent of the Occupiers from St. James Park marched to Front and Bay to protest outside the offices of Brookfield Properties. The real estate developer is the owner of Zuccotti Park, the site of the original Occupy Wall Street camp; New York police evicted protesters there overnight.
One potential complication is that the park is jointly owned by the City and St. James Cathedral; the cathedral has not, thus far, objected to the Occupation. Some of the protesters had lately been moving their tents much closer to the church in the hopes that this would provide some protection should legal challenges arise.
The full texts of the eviction notice, letter from the city manager, and of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s letter of concern about an eviction—
A few days ago, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association sent Ford a letter expressing their concerns about any eviction of the Occupiers.