One of Toronto's hottest new restaurants is dinner with a view. Located under the Gardiner Expressway, this pop-up experience has everything: giant heated terrariums around flora eateries, a celebrity preparing a "3-course blind menu" and now organized protests.
Local activists have taken the shot that the luxurious restaurant is now sitting under the same highway near where the homeless had lived until recently, when the city camped earlier this year and cited security issues.
What should be an Instagram-friendly spin at fine dining places became a flashpoint Friday between the city's richer residents and the most vulnerable.
When diners hid in terrarium-like domes and attached to entrees infused with Mexican, Italian and French influences, a group of activists on the other side of a fence separating pop-up from the rest of the world characters reading "Homes Not Domes" and "Evict the Rich" while others played drums and other instruments.
A law firm called the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty had called for the demonstration called "Dinner with a View – of the Rich." OCAP also provided a free three-course meal in contrast with the expensive kitchen at dinner with a view.
According to the restaurant's website, it costs 149 Canadian dollars to rent a terrarium, and there is a separate nightly fee of $ 99 Canadian per person. The parties must include four to six people, which means that the least possible experience costs about $ 550 Canadian – before tax.
OCAP wanted to use the protest to draw attention to the greater problem of homelessness in Toronto, organizer Yogi Acharya told The Washington Post.
"Toronto, like most cities, is in the midst of a housing crisis," said Acharya. "There are people who are homeless who have no other place to go but under a highway. It was so hard to put on meals as not far from where people were hungry and cold all winter and we thought it required a protest . "
Dinner with a view is in Bentway, a public space of 11-mile highway, run by an independent charity and has hosted community events such as art exhibitions, public markets, and more. It is about a mile from the borders of one of the homeless camps that city officials cleared.
In a statement on the protests submitted on Instagram, the organizers of Dinner With A View said: "We are sympathetic to those affected by the city's actions and were in no way involved in the decision-making process." They said they had worked with Bentway, and not with the city authorities, to open the pop-up window that runs until May 2.
OCAP's main complaint was with the city and how it was aimed at homelessness. Acharya said the organization would hold another demonstration on April 12 outside of Toronto's Metro Hall to demand that the city preserve respite for homeless people, add beds to its housekeeping system and build affordable housing.
Bradley's Toronto spokesman disagreed with OCAP's characterization of the city's actions.
"We work every day 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to offer permanent housing, jobs, what we can to help people living on the street," he told the post. He said the officials had offered help and shelter to the homeless who were exposed to the camp, but some had chosen not to accept the offer.
Ross also said that one of the camps under the Gardiner Expressway had experienced a fire in March, leading the city to clear other such places for safety reasons.
Toronto, with a population of just under 3 million, had an estimated 8,715 homeless in April 2018, of which approx. 6 percent lived outdoors, according to a city survey. The primary reasons for homelessness are migration, economy and the housing market, found the city.
Most of its shelter is in or near capacity, with the system at 92 percent of its total capacity, according to recent city data. The average number of people using the shelters rose from 4,366 in January 2017 to 6,820 in January 2019. "People who carry the bottom of our home crisis and try to survive are being pushed out," said Acharya. "Meanwhile, luxurious dining visits to the wealthy permits."
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