Susan Bender, manager at the Toronto Drop-In Network, says the city should communicate with people in encampments and take direction from them. “Survival gear and fire-retardant materials will be very important,” she emphasizes.

There have been over 100 encampment-related fires since the beginning of the pandemic, along with one death on May 1.

“So what can we do to stop them from happening?” Bender asks. “Maybe we need meal provisions so that people don’t need to be cooking over propane. But that has to be done by talking with the communities out there, because they know what they need.”