On the same day Edmonton’s mayor met with Premier Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Tyler Shandro about the issue, city council voted in favour of next steps being taken on an initiative aimed at improving safety in the downtown core.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of asking city administrators and the Edmonton Police Commission to put together a business plan for an initiative dubbed the Healthy Streets Operation Centre.
The centre would serve as a hub for various services in the Chinatown area, where many social agencies are located.
Coun. Tim Cartmell put forward the motion that was voted on Monday.
“I think we’ll find just what the right resource is to react to problems and concerns that people see in the moment, whether that’s an addiction counsellor or mental health worker or a fire rescue service person or a paramedic,” he said. “What is it that we need more of — most of — in the moment.
“This is an opportunity to essentially pilot that and learn from that.”
City administration is now tasked with determining how much such a centre would cost to run.
It’s the latest development in the city’s attempt to address safety concerns in the heart of Edmonton, an issue that was thrust into the spotlight after the killings of two men in Chinatown last month.
In late May, Shandro ordered Mayor Amarjeet Sohi to present him with a plan on how the city plans to address the issue of crime and disorder. Details of that plan were released on June 9.
Sohi said his meeting with Shandro, Kenney and Labour and Immigration Minister Kaycee Madu on Monday was lengthy and productive. The province’s director of law enforcement also provided an overview of Alberta’s response to Edmonton’s plan, however, officials said that overview would not be shared publicly as a dialogue between the province and city aimed at refining it remains ongoing.
In a statement issued by the provincial government Monday, the province also described the meeting as “productive.”
“Mayor Sohi provided an overview of the City of Edmonton’s requests for social supports,” the statement reads. “They include the implementation of minimum shelter standards, equitable funding for shelter capacity and to support local plans to end houselessness, and the co-ordination of a release plan for vulnerable persons and supports to tackle the drug-poisoning crisis.
“Both parties have committed to discussing these matters further.”
“We spent almost an hour-and-a-half today… to talk about their review of our safety plan,” Sohi said.
“There’s a desire for the province and the city to work together towards a shared goal of building safer communities.”
–With files from Morgan Black, Global News