With temperatures in recent days beginning to dip down and reflect what early December should feel like in Calgary, a community development committee will meet at city hall on Wednesday to discuss how to support Calgarians experiencing homelessness during the cold months ahead.
The meeting comes less than a week after an encampment outside of the downtown Drop-In Centre was torn down by Calgary bylaw officers.
Ward 11 councillor Kourtney Penner is the chair of the committee. She says while the conversation is timely with winter right around the corner, the issue has grown more serious.
“We are seeing a lot of individuals making use of our LRT stations and making use of doorways,” she said. “It is very front and centre.”
It’s not just city council taking notice either.
The Calgary Fire Department says there has been an uptick in fire calls related to camps.
“We have seen multiple calls… fires that have started… and destroyed the the entire tent,” said CFD public information officer Carol Henke.
Henke adds that often times in these calls, tents and other combustible materials have been too close to open flames.
Chaz Smith is the founder of Be The Change YYC and will be speaking at Wednesday’s meeting.
Smith says he would like consideration to be given to emergency warming stations, such as at LRT platforms.
“We have all sorts of underutilized infrastructure throughout the city that is being heated, has electricity and has water running through it,” he said.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek is in Houston this week for the World Petroleum Congress and plans to meet with Sylvester Turner, the mayor of the Texas city, to discuss how that city is supporting its vulnerable people.
“Anytime we’re able to learn from other jurisdictions, I’m incredibly interested in doing so,” she said.