Over the past few months, encampments have become a growing concern within the community. There are no easy solutions to address encampments and the complex social issues around homelessness but there are successful connections happening to support the vulnerable populations
Every day, service providers and community groups are extending outreach and making connections for those at risk, all across our city. The City recognizes the ongoing work being done to help keep our community clean and safe while assisting and protecting the dignity of the most vulnerable.
When encampment responses are required, they are coordinated through a number of services and departments.
To date, the Clean Sweep Program (CSP) has responded to 150 calls of encampments throughout the city, with approximately 95 per cent of the smaller encampment calls being successfully resolved (excluding larger established ones). During encampment responses, the CSP team works with individuals living in encampments to determine items that they want to keep or throw away, sometimes over the course of several days.
Since July, the Canadian Mental Health Association's (CMHA) Outreach Mobile Team (OMT) has been providing ongoing outreach support and service referrals to the vulnerable population, specifically those living in encampments. In addition, the following have been instrumental in providing outreach, information and referral services during encampment responses:
- CMHA's Community LINKS Integrated Coordinated Access program
- CMHA's Diversion Outreach Team (DOT) for transportation services
- Alpha House – Stabilization Support
- SAGE Clan
- Indigenous Recovery Coach Program (IRC)
- Alberta Health Services – Addiction and Mental Health Outreach
- Lethbridge Police Service
This outreach work —along with the contributions from many other organizations including Alberta Alliance Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly (AAWEAR), LPS Watch, MyCityCare, Streets Alive and Sweetgrass Youth Alliance— continues to make a difference for individuals experiencing homelessness in our community.
To date, coordinated encampment responses have occurred:
1) Along the North side of 2nd Avenue North, along the Kitchen Centre boulevard near the Stabilization Shelter:
- Wednesday, June 1, 2022
- Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7
2) At the Civic track and surrounding area:
- Thursday, July 14 and Friday, July 15
- Thursday, July 28
- Wednesday, August 3
- Wednesday, August 10
For the week of August 5-11, 2022, encampment response outcomes include:
- Five (5) people were connected with CMHA's Outreach Mobile Team (OMT) to complete referrals to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programming. An additional two (2) individuals were being re-contacted by OMT on August 12, 2022.
- A total of 341 interactions were completed by CMHA's OMT and Community LINKS including intakes, referrals, and rapport-building (including 120 at the Civic area).
- CMHA's Diversion Outreach Team transported individuals to services including the Shelter, Chinook Regional Hospital, Streets Alive, private residences, and others.
- A total of 1048 needles and 40 pipes were disposed of to date (during coordinated encampment responses since June 1).
- August 10 saw 74 needles and three pipes disposed of from the Civic track area.
- On August 10, 2022, the CSP removed 1,130 kg of debris (one full dumpster and one full dump trailer of debris) from the Civic track area.
Weekly cleanups at the Civic track area will continue. City Council's approval on August 9, 2022, for Administration to explore the possibility of an interim Sober Shelter at the former Civic Curling Centre is a positive development that would offer an alternative option for those staying in encampments. As part of the process, community engagement will be conducted this fall.
There is currently not enough permanent supportive or transitional housing available in Lethbridge. The City continues to work with our service providers and advocate to the Provincial Government for these much-needed resources to support the vulnerable population.
For more information on the Encampment response process, please visit www.lethbridge.ca/csd.
If you have an encampment concern, please contact the Safe Community Call Centre at 1-825-399-SAFE or 311 during business hours.
For Public Inquiries:
Call 311 | Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.