Toronto's branch of the worldwide occupation movement is based in St. James Park, where a small tent city sprung up last month. Occupiers are attempting to raise awareness about the gulf between the rich and the poor, but their campsite has drawn criticism from area residents and Mayor Rob Ford, who has suggested it is time for the group to "move on."
On the weekend, Anonymous, an amorphous collective of hackers, threatened to have the city "removed from the Internet" if it follows through on plans to evict campers.
"We are taking all threats seriously and will be taking appropriate measures," city spokeswoman Margaret Dougherty responded Monday, though she would not elaborate on what specific measures the city would be taking, or how much it may cost.
Anonymous uses a tactic known as "distributed denial of service," which floods a website with traffic to overload the server.
"We've talked to our IT people and they feel very confident that it's secure," Ford said.
The Anonymous threat has soured the mood for one Ford ally who has been the point person on the Occupy file. Councillor Norm Kelly, chairman of the parks and environment committee, said he suddenly feels more "combative."
"I didn't like the premise that there's a group out there that for its own reasons is above the law, or beyond it," said Kelly. "When you do something that has turned someone who has worked with you into someone who goes 'whoa, this isn't nice, this isn't fair, this isn't welcome', then I'm not sure they've helped the cause."
Meanwhile, Ford can't give an exact date on when the Occupy Toronto camp will officially be asked to leave the downtown park.
"It's going to happen soon," Ford told reporters on Monday, divulging few other details except that it will involve the city handing out "notices" to protesters, in the hopes of an amicable breakup.
"It's been a peaceful protest, and I'm sure they'll leave peacefully," Ford said when asked what happens if the demonstrators ignore the city's request.
Ford is refusing an offer by the protesters who have been living in tents in the park since Oct. 15 to visit.
"I do my job here, and anybody wants to come here, I don't mind meeting anyone but I can't go down to the park. It's illegal what they're doing . . . And I can't condone illegal behaviour," said Ford.