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Nearby residents concerned about crime as Edmonton encampment reaches capacity

Click to play video: 'Edmonton community residents concerned about crime as encampment reaches capacity' Edmonton community residents concerned about crime as encampment reaches capacity
WATCH ABOVE: A river valley encampment next to Edmonton's RE/MAX Field has reached full capacity. While those who live in the space say it's a safe place to be, residents in nearby communities paint a different picture. Chris Chacon reports. – Aug 6, 2020

A river valley encampment right next to Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field is at full capacity.

While those who live in the space say it’s a safe place to be, residents in nearby communities paint a different picture.

Trevor Chambers said he is glad to have a spot at this temporary encampment, which has been organized and is run by several groups.

“They gave me a tent, they gave me clothes, a place to stay, food to eat,” Chambers said.

“It’s safe, it really is. If there is confrontation, they deal it between themselves, they sit down and talk about it.”

Read more: Province reacts to Edmonton homeless camps being taken down

The city says it is aware of the camp and working towards a solution while also offering help.

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“It grew very, very quickly,” said Black Lives Matter’s Shima Robinson, a camp organizer. “We had maybe a dozen people the second day. By the third day, there was double that. By the fourth day, there was double that.

“It grew exponentially, [and] now we’re at a capacity.”

While the response from those who live at the camp has been positive, residents in neighbouring communities are having a different experience.

“[There have been] so many break-ins in Riverdale. People are getting their bikes stolen — it’s just out of control,” said Budd Zak, who lives nearby.

“I’m sure in Rossdale it’s really bad too, probably more now because of this camp, but I don’t think its a good location.”

Robinson says her group has several demands, including defunding police and putting an end to what she calls racialized police violence against the city’s homeless. She adds that while crime exists, she also recognizes some of the people living in the encampment face challenges.

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Read more: Tent cities causing growing concerns for some Edmontonians

“There’s people with a lot of issues at the camp,” she said.

“Those folks have a gamut of barriers and a whole lifestyle they’re living linked to the way they’re shuffled around and treated in this city.”

Edmonton police say, to date, they have received few calls for service related to the camp and are not dealing with any ongoing issues.

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