Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says Occupy Toronto will be asked to pack up their tents “soon,” refusing to say when the city plans to act, but offering to listen to protesters’ concerns if they come to City Hall.
The Mayor made it clear last week that he believes it's time for the protesters camped out at St. James Park to move on, saying they have had enough time to get their message out. Pressed for details Monday on how the city plans to remove tents from the downtown park, the mayor indicated that he is hoping to end the protest without a confrontation.
“We are going to be asking them to leave the park and take it from there,” he told reporters. ”It is going to happen soon. I can’t give an exact date. It is going to happen soon.” Later he went on to say, “It has been a peaceful protest. I’m sure they will leave peacefully.”
Mr. Ford said he has no intention of visiting the site, saying to do so would be condoning what he described as “illegal behaviour. ” But he did say protesters are free to come to City Hall. “I do my job here. If anyone wants to come here, I don’t mind meeting anyone”
The Mayor’s plans to evict the protestors also has led to a cyber threat against the city’s computer system. A hacker group called Anonymous issued an ultimatum on YouTube over the weekend saying it would remove Toronto from the Internet if Mr. Ford went through with his plans.
Responding to that threat Monday, Mr. Ford said the city is taking the possible cyber attack seriously, adding that staff believe they have put appropriate safeguards in place.
Councillor Norm Kelly, chair of the city’s parks and environment committee said the weekend ultimatum did not help the cause of the protesters. “This isn’t welcome and I’m not sure they’ve helped the cause,” he said. “That threat has darkened the mood.”
Mr. Kelly said there are many options on the table for clearing out the park and the one chosen by the city will depend in part on the response of protesters.