With extremely cold conditions forecast for Edmonton in the coming days, the last of the eight ‘high-risk’ homeless camps the city and police plan to remove still stands as camp residents and at least one city councillor air concerns about safety and capacity at shelters.
Chad Charland, who has been living in the camp at Rowland Road and 95 Street east of downtown for the last four-to-five months, says he’s heard shelters are full and, further, that he doesn’t have trust in their safety.
“I want to take care of my belongings,” Charland told CTV News Edmonton on Monday, adding he felt relief when he heard his encampment escaped being taken apart for at least another day.
“Honestly, it’s peace of mind for another day,” he said at the camp site.
Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack says he shares Charland’s concerns.
“There is concern around safety and security, there is concerns around not being able to lock up belongings, concerns about not being able to stay with a companion or a loved one,” Knack told CTV News Edmonton.
Jason Nixon, Alberta’s minister of seniors, community and social services, said in a statement Monday 112 shelter beds in Edmonton remain open.
Knack said he would like to see improvement of standards at shelters and more affordable housing options, things he says the province is failing to deliver.
“I, at this point, don’t feel like they are listening, because if they were, they would have just taken action,” he said.
“This isn’t just an Edmonton issue.”
Knack says the city has spent $250 million on supportive housing since 2019, funding he says the provincial government should be providing since housing falls under its jurisdiction.
Dr. Chaldeans Mensah, a political scientist at MacEwan University, says the question of who is responsible to provide such housing, however, is a grey area.
“The constitution does not specifically mention the issue of housing, but by convention, it really applies to all three levels of government,” Mensah told CTV News Edmonton.
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