A protestor is dragged out of the Novotel shelter hotel downtown in November, the week before it closed.
Novotel Shelter Closes, But Not Without A Fight
“Why are police [forcing] people from
the building after being told they need housing?,” asked Dredz, at the time a resident of
the Novotel shelter, located beside Union
Dredz and over 25 other people, a mix of
residents and advocates, were occupying the
shelter’s lobby on November 29. “Don’t give
us excuses, we’re here and we are stakeholders, our lives are at stake while you’re making
a profit… we’re allowed to be angry because
we’ve been neglected.”
The group was demanding an end to forced
police evictions of residents.
In November, Novotel shelter staff told
residents the shelter would close by December
31, and all residents must leave by December 6.
Many residents were forced out before the December 6 deadline. Some were given no plan
for where they would be placed. Others were
placed in shelters in Scarborough or Jane and
Finch, areas far from their communities, employment and support systems.
At the occupation, a list of demands was
pasted on the Novotel, calling for individualized consultation for relocation plans, the right
for residents to refuse evictions, an end to the
two-bag limit (where residents were only allowed to bring two bags of belongings), and financial compensation for belongings that have
been disposed of by staff.
Two minutes after the occupation began,
two Toronto Police officers arrived, along with
three private Star security, and two community
Residents and advocates demanded to
speak to Lacey Kerr, who works as the Novotel's
site manager, and Patricia Mueller, the executive director of Homes First, the support service for housing sites that operates Novotel’s
services. Kerr was present inside and didn’t answer residents' and advocates' questions, only
stating they must leave.
The police presence grew. After 15 minutes of residents voicing their concerns, including sexual misconduct by staff, around
seven advocates and residents were dragged
out of the Novotel by police. The remainder
exited the building peacefully.
Later that night, around 1 am, Dredz was arrested. He was later released on bail and evicted
from the shelter.
On December 6 the Novotel hotel-shelter
officially closed, but as Voices from the Novotel
posted on Twitter that day, “our fight continues.”
They mention other shelters and also
encampments, where people are trying to
stay alive this winter. “From Delta, to Bond,
to 545 Lakeshore, to St. Stephen's, to Allen
Gardens our fight continues in every part of
this city where unhoused folks live and exist
while the City of Toronto imposes violence.
We will resist.”
This article appears in the December 2022 - January 2023 Issue. A longer version was originally published by The Hoser and is available at