July Encampment Strategy Update
The City’s Encampment Strategy is now in full operation and seeing success with the support of outreach services and a coordinated response plan.
Since the launch of the Strategy the 311 contact centre has received 156 requests related to encampments. Of these, 22 were for biohazards, 26 for debris with evidence of sleeping rough, 28 needle debris and 70 encampments.
“Now that we have a team dedicated to this important work and a coordinated effort from all those involved, we are able to make a much bigger impact,” says Andrew Malcolm, General Manager of Community Social Development for the City of Lethbridge.
On June 19, a new online report form was added to the City of Lethbridge website for the public to report a public safety issue, such as encampments. This form goes to the City’s 311 contact centre and is triaged according to the Encampment Response protocols outlined in the Encampment Strategy. The form has already been well used with 56 online reports received.
“The new online form is making it much easier for residents to submit concerns 24/7,” says Cathy Gejdos, General Manager of Customer Service and 311 at the City of Lethbridge. “Even though it has only been available for a few weeks, we’re already receiving 1/3 of our total encampment reports through the online form.”
Another addition in the past month includes the implementation of the Street Medicine program. This outreach focused pilot project is funded through the City of Lethbridge and operated by the Blood Tribe Department of Health, focused on providing heath care services to the homeless population. This is a supplementary service to the core outreach services being offered from Streets Alive that are focused on housing referrals. The Street Medicine program is tailored towards medical services that will support individuals in housing readiness and overall health and wellbeing. This program does not duplicate or replace emergency services, in the event of an emergency, please call 911.
The community is also asked to help report encampments by calling 311 or online chatting with 311 or they can submit an online form to report a public safety issue 24/7. Any immediate, life-threatening issues should always be reported by calling 911.
On April 18, Lethbridge City Council approved funding for up to $500,000 per year for 2023-2026 and $250,000 one-time funding to support the Encampment Strategy.
The Strategy establishes a consistent approach that triages an encampment response based on health and safety risks and allocate the appropriate level of resources.
View the Encampment Strategy for full details on objectives and response process.