Barred and Banished: Encampment Evictions, Public Space, and Permanent Displaceability in Toronto

Despite Toronto's motto of diversity and inclusion, the municipality has recently mobilised exclusionary spatio-legal tools against unhoused populations using claims to law and order. This article examines one such case of legal action, its precedents, and its constitutive effects on urban citizenship and governance. In 2021, amidst a homelessness crisis aggravated by COVID-19, Toronto police executed violent raids against encampment residents in three public parks. In response to the public relations backlash, the municipality changed course, issuing suspension notices to encampment leaders that barred them from public spaces and services. The suspension notice, while unenforceable, allows municipal administrators to exclude those whose conduct allegedly disturbs the quiet enjoyment of property from public space. Building on critical planning and socio-legal debates on propertied urban citizenship, we use legal research and semi-structured interviews to identify how these arbitrary yet legal tools exacerbate permanent displaceability, banishment, and colonial modes of governance.

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A Radical Journal of Geography