Over the past year, there has been an increase in the number of encampments within the community. City Council addressed the issue on Tuesday by voting unanimously to direct administration to report back with a strategy on how encampments are responded to and how to best advocate to the provincial government on long term solutions.
Councillor Middleton-Hope brought forward the motion and is looking forward to seeing the collaborative solutions administration can come back with for Council's review.
"Encampments pose a safety risk to both the individuals living within them, as well as the community," says Middleton-Hope. "There have been increased incidents of overdoses, illegal activity and aggressive behaviour in and around encampments. It is time the City and our partners develop and implement a constructive long term strategy that has an impact on this community problem"
The City continues to work with stakeholders on a collective impact approach to improve the encampment response process while protecting the dignity of the most vulnerable in our city.
"We are in the process of formalizing a comprehensive strategy and identifying the roles needed to address each situation over the coming months," says Mike Fox, Director of Community Services. "Some of these roles are in the process of being filled. Where we also need to focus efforts, is on how best to advocate to the provincial government for permanent housing solutions for those residents who are experiencing homelessness."
When encampments are removed, they are likely to return or relocate to a new location. There are many factors involved in this complex social issue and can be exacerbated by a current lack of permanent supportive and transitional housing in our community as an alternative.
For more information on the Encampment Response Process, and other initiatives Community Social Development is working on, please visit our website www.lethbridge.ca/csd. If you have an encampment concern, please contact the Safe Community Call Centre at 1-825-399-SAFE.
Administration is to come back to the Community Safety Standing Policy Committee before October 13 this year with a strategy for review.