Representatives from another encampment of tents in Edmonton — this one at the Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park in Old Strathcona — have written a letter to the mayor, province and prime minister.
The volunteers running the Peace Camp, which has been growing in size for the last several weeks, want to see action taken by all orders of government to keep the unhoused population safe.
The group is demanding:
- A new overnight shelter that is 2SLGBTQ+ friendly, secular, and culturally open to Indigenous people
- An emergency $10,000 relief grant for tents, food, and a first aid equipment for those who continue to sleep rough in Old Strathcona
- Immediate provision of housing and social services on site at the Peace Camp
- A new supervised consumption site in Old Strathcona
- Mobile registry van to help provide identification services to the unhoused population
- Release a list of surplus buildings owned by the city and other levels of government (if possible) and intended plans for the spaces
The letter, which is signed by two volunteers and sent out by the president of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights, calls on the federal and provincial governments to “resource the City of Edmonton in order to respond to these urgent needs without conditions.
“Allow the city to work with the community to make the necessary decisions to ensure all in our city have adequate, accessible and affordable housing.”
The group also highlights that there is an over-representation of Indigenous young people among the unhoused in Edmonton, Alberta and across the country.
“We are willing to negotiate and advocate with the city in order to achieve these goals and ensure the safety of everyone involved,” the letter concludes.
The city’s interim manager was asked about the demands during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“We haven’t had a chance to review it, unfortunately,” Adam Laughlin said.
“What I can say is we are in regular conversation with organizers of that camp and continue to work towards resolution on that. So stay tuned on that.
“Obviously if there’s been correspondence, we will review and respond at the appropriate time.”
This is the second encampment in Edmonton this summer. The first is Camp Pekiwewin in Rossdale, near RE/MAX Field.
The Camp Pekiwewin group also has a list of demands it has presented the city and public — including an end to tent slashing homeless camps, a review of bylaws that “perpetually erode the security, safety and dignity of people with no fixed address,” more transitional supports for those who have been institutionalized or through the foster care system, an emergency fund for front-line workers, free transit, and the official declaring of Pekiwewin grounds to remain a reclaimed, accessible, active ceremonial site.
At the end of August, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson put forward a plan to end homelessness in a 10-week period — before winter.
Iveson said he was requesting federal financial aid to help move people without places to live into bridge or transitional housing.
Last week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) proposed a federal initiative and partnership to “rapidly repurpose on-sale private buildings as permanent, non-profit housing for vulnerable Canadians.”
“Most urgently, cities across Canada are suggesting that we convert buildings like motels and hotels into permanent supportive housing so that we can better support Canadians experiencing homelessness, including those living with mental illness and substance use disorders,” Iveson said on Sept. 10.
“This is a more cost-effective measure than any short-term or temporary shelters, and supports key federal objectives to reach or exceed the national housing strategy’s aim to cut chronic homelessness in half.”
— With files from Allison Bench, Global News