Lethbridge City Council will move ahead with funding allocations to provide more services, outreach, support and resources to help the vulnerable population in the city.
On Tuesday, Council voted 7-1 to allocate up to $230,000 in one-time funding from Corporate Budget Contingencies to assist in the administrative and policing funding shortfalls to expedite compassionate clean-up at encampments.
"Council is aware that encampments continue to be on the rise in Lethbridge and that they continue to pose a safety risk to both the individuals living within them as well as the rest of the community," says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. "Creating a safe and viable community continues to be a priority, as does a compassionate approach to our homeless population. Today's funding approval will help us navigate some of the situations encountered with the encampment sites while we continue to advocate to the Provincial Government for the support we need for housing and addictions."
"Anecdotally, we have heard that the collaborative and compassionate approach to encampment clean-up has been successful," says Mike Fox, Director of Community Services. "Our partners are working to help individuals connect to programs and services. It's not just about moving people from one place to another but about making sure they get the help they need and we've seen that happening, which is very encouraging."
The other proposed operative clauses in the initial motion Tuesday were part of a unanimous referral to a future a special Council meeting (date to be determined and announced) where more information will be presented.
They include proposals for:
- City Council allocating up to $470,000 in one-time funding from Corporate Budget Contingencies for administration to move forward with more suitable solutions for encampment concerns that go above just encampment clean-up
- Creation of a local community task force to gather key partners together for a community view of these complex issues
- City Council writing a letter to Seniors and Housing, Community and Social Services and Mental Health and Addictions requesting the formation of a provincial/City of Lethbridge working group to allow for collaboration on medium- and long-term housing and homelessness solutions that will ultimately address encampments issues
More information on the City's encampment response process can be found here.
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