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City Council approves updates to Encampment Strategy

In partnership with Lethbridge Police Service and the Watch Program, a new outreach model will provide an enhanced service for the vulnerable population as well as the community at large.

The Watch will be able to utilize existing resources and expand current scope with support from Community Social Development outreach specialists to provide an increased ability to adapt and respond to community needs in real time.

This addition is one of the amendments included in the 2024 Strategic Updates and Encampment Strategy 2023 Year in Review that, based on a recommendation from the Safety and Social Standing Policy Committee, Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday approved unanimously. The full presentation can be viewed here.

“The report provides highlights and key findings from the first year of encampment response, under the approved strategy, and provides some changes are based on our operational learnings, best practice research, and opportunities for continuous improvement,” says Andrew Malcolm, General Manager for Community Social Development.

The initial Encampment Strategy was approved by City Council in May 2023 and operationalized in June 2023. The coordinated strategy was developed and implemented in partnership with LPS. It provides the community with a consistent response that recognizes the importance of balancing the needs and protection of the dignity of the most vulnerable while maintaining public safety, health, order, and safe and enjoyable parks and green spaces for all residents.

“Our City Council is appreciative of the efforts from the Community Social Development team and from the Lethbridge Police Service,” says Councillor John Middleton-Hope, who is also Chair of the Safety and Social SPC. “During the summer of 2022, we tasked our Administration with finding methods to compassionately assist with encampment issues in our community. While there is still work to do, we have been impressed so far and we look forward to further supporting collaborative work to help with public safety in Lethbridge.”

The Encampment Strategy and the associated response is currently funded with:

  • $153,460 (2023)/$260,000 (for each year from 2024-2026) in annual ongoing from the 2023-2026 Operating Budget (C-11.2 - Outreach Programs, page 189 here)
  • $250,000 in one-time from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR) 
  • $500,000 in annual on-going from the MRSR

There is currently $2,630,312 available of approved funding for 2024-2026 (an average of $876,770 per year). There is no additional financial request associated with the proposed strategy updates.

The new collaboration with LPS, the Watch and CSD will also eliminate a third party that may be bound by contractual expectations.

As part of ongoing communications, CSD will provide continued bi-monthly updates to Lethbridge City Council and the community.

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