EDMONTON — The campfire was still burning at the so-called Peace Camp in Old Strathcona Sunday evening, nine days after the City of Edmonton ordered its closure.
The gathering of unhoused people living in tents in Dr. Wilbur McIntyre Park did not close as expected, but instead was being moved two blocks south to Light Horse Park.
“I wish we didn’t have to move because we were starting to get settled here,” camp co-organizer Cameron Noyes said, adding he has no plans to close the camp.
Volunteers used vehicles and bicycles to slowly move food items and tents from 83 Avenue to 85 Avenue on 104 Street.
“I think the Strathcona EPS are going to laugh and shake their heads. They knew we had a Plan B, they didn’t know what it was, but now they know,” Noyes said.
Officials from the city, peace officers and police have been meeting with camp organizers for weeks.
A recent statement from the city acknowledged Sept. 28 as a planned move out date, after an initial order to close on Sept. 18 was not followed.
“While the City does not endorse the presence of the camp in this park, it will delay enforcement actions temporarily. If safety issues arise at any time, the City will respond with action,” a statement from the City of Edmonton said on September 21.
“The City empathizes with those living outside. Our ultimate solution is for every Edmontonian to have a home. In the meantime, 24/7 shelters have spaces available to support people while they take steps forward on their path to housing,” Rob Smyth, Deputy City Manager of Citizen Services said at the time.
Noyes was happy to report that some of the people at Peace Camp have now been housed, but believes an encampment is the best temporary solution for others.
“We would be sending people back to a dangerous situation if they have to move back to Mill Creek Ravine or the river valley. So I don’t think we had a choice. So we’re going to stick by them for as long as we can,” Noyes said, adding he wants more government resources allocated for housing.
A spokesperson for the City of Edmonton said he was unaware that the camp had moved and not closed, but declined to provide a statement until he met with other city officials.
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