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City, police prepare to dismantle 8th ‘high-risk’ Edmonton homeless encampment

With seven of the eight Edmonton homeless encampments that police deemed to be “high-risk” already removed, police officers and city crews arrived at the last of those still standing on Tuesday morning to prepare to dismantle it.

Police officers and city crews could be seen at a homeless encampment in the area of 95th Street and Rowland Road on Tuesday morning.

The encampment removal is expected to happen as temperatures plummet in Alberta’s capital, prompting the city to enact its extreme weather response protocols to help keep vulnerable Edmontonians warm.

Police Chief Dale McFee and other officials in the city have described many of Edmonton’s homeless camps as dangerous places because of concerns regarding fires, health, drugs and crime.

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In 2023, the city said Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to 135 fires in encampments resulting in 22 injuries and three deaths.

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Late last year, police identified eight “high-risk encampments for removal, but an emergency court injunction sought by the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights on Dec. 18, 2023, was granted by a judge and briefly postponed the plan.

While the injunction has been extended until the application for a lawsuit against the city’s encampment response is heard on Jan. 11, a judge ruled that the city and police are still allowed to remove high-risk encampments as long as a number of conditions are met, including that officials ensure there is enough shelter space available to accommodate those being forced to leave.

Some advocates for unhoused Edmontonians have argued that it is cruel to dismantle the camps, particularly as temperatures get cold, because some homeless people do not feel safe in a shelter or are reluctant to go because they cannot bring their pets or possessions.

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Police found weapons at Dawson Park encampment

On Tuesday, police tweeted that officers seized a number of weapons while tearing down an encampment at Dawson Park last week.

Police said officers found 10 samurai swords, 11 machetes, 34 other knives including butterfly knives, two axes, brass knuckles, a collapsible baton and a pellet gun.

Officials with the Edmonton Police Service are scheduled to take questions from reporters about the city’s encampment response on Tuesday afternoon.

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More to come…

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