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Edmonton adds 3 additional transit outreach teams with goal of making ETS safer

The city says its complement of Community Outreach Transit Teams (COTT) has been expanded from four to seven teams.

COTT is made up of outreach workers from Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society with Transit Peace Officers from the City of Edmonton.

The role of the teams is to connect with vulnerable people in the transit system, helping them find community support and resources, including housing, mental health, substance use, and financial assistance.

“When vulnerable people turn to transit spaces, COTT is there with a human-centred, trauma-informed approach,” said Murray Knutson, deputy director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society in a news release. “Pairing outreach workers with Transit Peace Officers allows us to reach out and match people with the support they need.”

The program initially launched with two teams in September 2020, and was expanded to four teams in February 2022.

The city says COTT has had more than 1,000 meaningful interactions with vulnerable Edmontonians since its inception.

Teams have also provided more than 45 instances of medical aid, and provided essential supplies more than 400 times.

With the addition of three new teams, COTT can now operate seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The city says teams are deployed as needed, but also proactively patrol transit spaces based on an observed pattern of demands for service.

COTT is also piloting an engagement booth at Churchill LRT Station on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, to make a consistent resource available to help the vulnerable.

“COTT is an example of how we can bring holistic solutions to make transit safer for everyone,” said Coun. Anne Stevenson. “By supporting people one by one, we all end up safer, and I’m excited to see this successful program grow.”

The current complement of teams is expected to remain in place until at least 2026. 

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