tim hortons homeless

Homeless advocates furious after Tim Hortons removes all tables and chairs

Last month, a Tim Hortons in Ottawa was widely-slammed for a new policy that would see police called on all customers who stayed in the cafe for longer than 30 minutes after purchasing something.

This week, a different location of the iconic Canadian coffee chain — also in our nation's capital — is coming under fire something even more dramatic: Removing all of the tables and chairs from its dining room so that customers literally can't sit around.

Ottawa-based photographer Lindsay Irene alerted her followers to the abrupt decor change on December 30.

"The Tim Hortons on Cumberland and Rideau recently removed all of their tables and chairs and closed access to their washrooms in case you were wondering how #ottawa businesses treat the homeless population," she wrote of the business at 423 Cumberland Street.

Dozens of displeased Twitter users wrote back to express their disappointment and disgust over how Tim Hortons was alleged to be treating its most-vulnerable patrons.

"Turning your back on the homeless is turning your back on any other Canadian," wrote one. "I'll admit I'm no saint but Jesus fuck, let them at least have the opportunity to sit down and take a moment in warmth during the winter months."

"Of all the ways they could have fixed that problem, removing furniture was the solution?" wrote another. "Aren't these the same dolts that clap themselves on the back for sending kids to camp and funding hockey? Be the change, Tim."

Tim Hortons addressed the backlash to CTV News in a piece published Thursday, telling the news outlet that it had removed its seating in an effort to curb drug use and other criminal activities.

"This restaurant has recently had several occurrences of inappropriate customer behaviour in the dining area, some of which have been violent and have required police intervention," said the company in a statement.

Seating has been removed "temporarily," according to the Tim Hortons at 423 Cumberland St., in order to "to balance our interest in staying open as late as we can for guests, while also ensuring the safety of our team members and guests at all times."

While many in Ottawa are furious, some customers seem to approve of the coffee chain's strategy.

"This is less than a block from the Mission," wrote one person on Twitter of individuals experiencing homelessness who may take refuge at the Tim Hortons. "They can get their coffee and hang out there."

"Last time I checked, businesses were not obliged to provide social services," wrote another person in response to Irene's original tweet. "Go complain to city council, or better yet, get off your lazy millennial ass and go help the homeless yourself."

"The homeless I saw in there all purchased coffee," she replied. "Now people are sitting on the floor."

Lead photo by

Dahlia Kurtz

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