Mass panhandle to take place in Toronto's PATH
The heart of the city's financial district will be the site of a mass panhandling protest Wednesday morning.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is behind the demonstration, which is set to take place in Toronto's underground PATH system.
"It is the developers, the major merchants and (others) who press for a policy of sweeping homeless people under the rug," states a notice on the OCAP website. "They don't want their money making to be interrupted by destitute people seeking the basic necessities of life.
"OCAP is organizing to stand up to this process of harassment," the note continues. "We are bringing homeless people and those who support them to panhandle in the very heart of the commercial showpiece they seek to drive people from."
Sgt. Peter Troup, with Toronto police 52 Division, said officers will be present throughout the protest to ensure it is a peaceful demonstration.
He also said panhandling is generally not allowed on private property. The PATH is owned by several corporations who own the buildings linked by the underground throughway.
"We're just going to play it by ear," Troup told CTV.ca. "Ultimately we take direction from the property owners."
If the property owners decide not to allow panhandling, police will ask demonstrators to stop. If they don't stop then they could be charged with trespassing, Troup said.
OCAP acknowledges on their website that some people might feel threatened by their protest but the group says it means no harm in their actions -- it's just looking for support.
"No doubt, attempts will be made to portray our mass panhandle as something people should feel threatened by," the notice says. "We want to make clear that our anger at the injustices homeless people face is not directed against ordinary people eating or shopping in the PATH.
"We will ask you for some change if you wish to give it and we will ask for your support and understanding of the situation facing the homeless."
Protestors are expected to meet at 11 a.m. in the park just west of the King and Bay Streets intersection, where breakfast will be served.