OCAP holds protest at site of luxury dinner under Gardiner Expressway
Katherine DeClerq, CP24.com
Published Friday, April 5, 2019 6:24PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 5, 2019 10:50PM EDT
Anti-poverty advocates held a demonstration outside of a luxury pop-up restaurant located under the Gardiner Expressway, a short distance away from an area that used to be a site of a former homeless encampment known as “tent city.”
The event, called “Dinner With A View-Of The Rich,” was organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
The pop-up promises a “completely luxurious dining experience in a highly unexpected setting.” It comprises of opaque domes full of plants that are meant to create a terrarium effect.
For the price of about $550, a party of four can enjoy a three-course gourmet meal made by former Top Chef Canada winner Rene Rodriguez.
The pop-up became a controversial tourist attraction due to its choice of location, a short distance away from an area that had just been cleared of its homeless population.
The camps were predominately located under the Gardiner Expressway, from Spadina Avenue to Lower Sherbourne Street, where Toronto residents could seek shelter from the cold.
In January, the City of Toronto gave residents living under the Gardiner Expressway 14 days to vacate the area, citing public safety issues.
John Clarke, an organizer with OCAP, said that holding a luxury pop-up so close to the former tent city was “crass and disgusting.”
“To drive people out in that way and to have the homeless shelters filled to overflowing and then allow this sumptuous consumption … it just offends us to our marrow,” Clarke said. “This is not what Toronto needs to be.”
OCAP hosted a free dinner for Toronto residents Friday night outside of the pop-up as a counter-event.
"As the partygoers gather for this rich festival, we will be close by, putting on a meal for homeless people and allies," Clarke said. "We will be condemning it and point finger to it.”
The pop-up organizers said in a statement that they are aware of the demonstration and clarified that the event is run by a charity and not the City of Toronto.
“We are sympathetic to those impacted by the City's actions and were in no way involved with the decision-making process,” the dinner organizers said in a statement.
The restaurant also said that no encampments were removed to make way for the pop-up.
“Dinner With A View” runs until May 2 and another event is slated for Montreal from April 16 to May 18.