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Old Strathcona encampment moves, sets up at new park several blocks away

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s Peace Camp moves two blocks to different park in Old Strathcona​' Edmonton’s Peace Camp moves two blocks to different park in Old Strathcona​
On the day the homeless camp in Old Strathcona was suppose to close after talks with the city, they've now set up a few blocks down the street. Camp organizers said they're still waiting for the city to take action on housing and until that happens, there's no closure date in sight. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Sep 28, 2020

One day ahead of a deadline the city set for the Peace Camp to move from Wilbert McIntyre Park, those who have been living there all packed up and moved to another park a few blocks away.

Read more: City of Edmonton expects ‘peaceful and voluntary closure’ of Old Strathcona camp by Sept. 28

The camp has been at Wilbert McIntyre Park since Sept. 5, and initially began after its organizers said several tent sites in the River Valley were taken down by city officials.

The deadline of Sept. 28 as the close-down goal for the site was decided after discussion with city officials. The city had initially asked the camp to be moved by Sept. 18, but it was granted an extension after camp organizers asked for help connecting those living there with social services.

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Camp representatives said Sunday that they were moving to Light Horse Park, another city park just two blocks north of the original location.

“The action from the city hasn’t been good enough,” said Cameron Noyes, a spokesperson for the camp. “We haven’t had a lot of tangible action from the city. We’ll figure out some new stuff.

“The one thing in the end that we all agreed on is we couldn’t let the group of people camping here go back to Mill Creek.”

Noyes said the camp was dismantled by 8 p.m. Sunday, and then the work to move the campers to the new location happened over the next few hours after that.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s Peace Camp moves to different park in Old Strathcona' Edmonton’s Peace Camp moves to different park in Old Strathcona
Edmonton’s Peace Camp moves to different park in Old Strathcona – Sep 28, 2020

On Monday, the city issued a statement where it said the move was “disappointing.”

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“The camp organizers’ decision to relocate the camp 200 metres away, instead of closing the camp and accessing available space at shelters, is disappointing and not in the spirit of the commitment they made to the city,” said a statement sent to Global News from city officials. “The city will be exploring all options in response to this encampment.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he believes the city may need to look at some type of temporary solution.

“I think it’s time to look at the need for another temporary shelter as things get cooler, like we had set up at Kinsmen,” Iveson said Monday.

 Noyes said that another camp needed to be constructed because the organizers don’t feel comfortable letting people go without a safe place to sleep.

“They’re just less vulnerable from everything — the elements, other people, police,” he said. “They’re just safer where they are.”

He added that the entire point of the camp was to be a “catalyst to housing” and that the COVID-19 outbreak at the Hope Mission led to hesitation from many campers to move to shelters.

City officials had previously told Global News that those in the camp should go to 24/7 shelters once it is dismantled. 

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On Monday, the city said there are numerous shelters in Edmonton that are currently operating and are not at capacity.

“The city empathizes with those living outside,” it said. “Our ultimate solution is that every Edmontonian has a home. The city is building supportive housing and continues advocating for provincial support.”

Iveson said Monday that he agrees housing is the solution to this challenge with the homeless camps, which is why the city is working on a proposal for the federal government to provide it with a piece of the $1 billion announced for housing last week. 

Read more: Winterization efforts underway at Edmonton’s Camp Pekiwewin

Camp Pekiwewin, another homeless encampment in the Rossdale neighbourhood, has not been given a deadline to move.

–With files from Lisa MacGregor, Global News

Click to play video: 'Discussions continue about encampment in Old Strathcona: city' Discussions continue about encampment in Old Strathcona: city
Discussions continue about encampment in Old Strathcona: city – Sep 18, 2020

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