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City of Edmonton about to evict hundreds of people in pre-Christmas blitz




Beginning December 18, while many are in the midst of holiday celebrations, the City of Edmonton will

begin a five-day campaign to destroy at least 135 structures at eight locations in the urban core.


“Hundreds of people already living in the most miserable circumstances we can imagine, in the midst

of winter weather, will have their belongs stolen and be displaced by this heartless action,” charges

Nadine Chalifoux, chair of the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH).


The structures that will be destroyed are mostly tents or informal structures of scrap lumber,

cardboard, and tarps.


ECOHH spokesperson Jim Gurnett says, “This attack on some of the most vulnerable people in

Edmonton will create dangerous consequences. There will be more demands on already-overloaded

staff at community organizations serving the affected people. Personal identification will be lost and

need to be replaced. Bedding, clothing, and toiletries will be gone. So will vital medications and

medical equipment. Irreplaceable personal mementos will be gone. People already struggling to cope

with trauma will have new troubles. More unnecessary deaths are possible.”


In communications about the planned action, sites are described in terms of the number of structures

at each one but numbers of people are not mentioned. Some estimates suggest up to 300 people live

at the locations. City communications advise agencies that the action may lead to more demand on

them for services. Staff of organizations that support people living in these camps are asked to stay

away while the destruction is underway.


This attack happens at a time when Homeward Trust’s daily reports show the number of people who

are homeless is consistently in excess of 3100, with 1126 shelter spaces available. It is in a context of

recent statements by officials that people living in camping situations must be stopped, whether there

is any place for them to go or not.


“What makes this action even more abhorrent than the destruction of camps in the past is that when

one camp with 12 or 15 structures is destroyed, the people living there normally move on to another

nearby location and set up new places to live. But when eight of the main locations are all removed in

the period of a few days, there will be less opportunity to do this. It is further complicated by actions

over the past few months to fence off many of the locations that were used over time for camps, so

they are no longer available,’ Chalifoux explains.


“The City office that oversees this work is called the ‘Encampment Response Team.’ I would say the

encampment response of a City with heart would be to ensure people camping could do so in safe

and sanitary conditions, and that every effort would be made to find appropriate more-adequate

housing for them,” suggests Gurnett.


The Edmonton action comes at a time when some other municipalities are finding ways to ensure a

better life for people who are camping. Many say people living in such situations have legal rights for

government to ensure basic needs are met for people. According to work by The Shift

(www.maketheshift.org), “Government cannot remove residents from encampments without

meaningfully consulting them, without providing them with legal supports, and without providing

adequate housing alternatives.”


On December 18, as soon as known, ECOHH will share on social media the location of the first camp

to be removed and invite people to gather as witnesses to the action.


Comment:

Nadine Chalifoux 780-716-5124 nadvc@hotmail.com

Jim Gurnett 780-218-6989 or jimgurnett@yahoo.ca


Locations of camps to be removed:

Herb Jamieson Centre

Bissell Centre

Hope Mission

95 Street & 101A Avenue

94 Street & 106 Avenue

95 Street & 105A Avenue (west of Bottle Depot)

Dawson Ravine

Kinnard Ravine


About ECOHH

The Edmonton Coalition Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH) was created in 1986.

Membership consists of social profit organizations and businesses, as well as individuals. Its mandate

includes education and advocacy on housing security, including homelessness and affordable

housing.

ECOHH led the development of the public art sculpture honouring the importance of housing,

located in Homeless Memorial Plaza, north of City Hall on 103A Avenue and has presented an annual

memorial service for people who have died because of housing challenges in their lives, since 2006.


ECOHH’s key messages are:

- Decent affordable housing is essential for all people.

- Good homes for all create strong healthy communities.

- Housing is more than four walls and a roof-- it's homes, support, and community.

- Lack of decent affordable housing has negative consequences for everyone.

- In Alberta we have the resources, knowledge, and skills to make sure everyone has a decent place

to call home in a strong healthy community


Download the pdf version below.

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.pdf
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