Chris has lived under the Gardiner at Spadina for eight years. He doesn't mind if you call him Chris Gardiner - just don't call him homeless.
It took Chris three years to collect the materials needed to build his makeshift home on this swath of forgotten land next to rusting hydro transformers.
The place is more welcoming than some apartments currently listed for rent downtown. Unfortunately, the city wants to refurbish the underside of the expressway, and it has deemed Chris's house to be in the way.
"They've wanted me out for years," says the bearded former Montrealer, sitting in a donated Ikea chair.
But as far as this modern-day Henry David Thoreau is concerned, he has a home and isn't going to pay a wealthy landlord to live on the earth, nor does he want others to pay for him to do so.
"I'm not interested in getting social welfare; I'm not interested in going on the system. I live outside of it and I do fine," says Chris
I enter through a wood-covered chain-link fence and pass some piled belongings. There's a little oven, a Coleman stove and plenty of vital cooking wares. Chris is brewing coffee, and cheerfully offers me one.
From the kitchen we enter the living room, which has ample seating, storage, a bookshelf, Chris's artwork on the walls and a recently added TV.
"All I've got is battery power," he says. "I guess I could have tapped into the streetlights, but that's stealing."
Chris decided it was time to build a home after spending his first few years in Toronto sleeping on streets, in bank entrances and parking garages. "I needed a place where I wouldn't be harassed by police, parks officials, pedestrians and store owners."
He tried living on CN Rail land, but it became a golf course. He found this locale while looking for storage space.
For money he looks to the lowliest denomination: pennies. "Notice the panhandlers on the corners? They don't like carrying them around. I find 100 to 200 pennies a day." He also refunds discarded cans and bottles. His average cost of living: $50 a week.
Chris may represent the epitome of self-reliance. But now, it seems, he's become a nuisance.
Over the years the city has cited him several times for trespassing, but Chris has always refused to move. More recently, officials have been coming around with offers of housing. But Chris says he couldn't be more comfortable.
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty volunteer Kolin Davidson says the city's pre-demolition goodwill gestures risk taking Chris out of a stable situation.
"He's warm in the winter. He's fine in the summer. This place is what keeps him stable," says Davidson.
But good luck trying to convince the city.
Iain De Jong of the city's Streets To Homes program didn't want to discuss Chris's status as "homeless" though he has a three-room home, preferring to give a general mandate statement and forgo "comments on specific individuals."
Transportation Services spokesperson Andy Koropeski, meanwhile, says there's a safety concern since the area is slated for construction. "It's pretty dangerous, because they're chipping concrete overhead."
Chris doesn't buy it. "They've been doing that for years, and people have lived all around it. So have I."
He hopes Toronto Hydro may have some influence, but Hydro spokesperson Laryssa Waler says there's nothing it can do since the city owns the land.
Chris, in the face of near-certain eviction, has resolved to hang on, even if it means going to jail.
"They can come and tear me down. They certainly have the power to do so," he says, "but I won't go quietly."
It's sad that it has come to this.