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Outreach team to provide further supports in community

Through a new innovative partnership between Community Social Development (CSD), Lethbridge Police Service and the Watch Program, a new approach to outreach will provide enhanced services for the vulnerable population as well as the community at large.

By streamlining existing resources, the Watch and CSD can adapt and respond to community needs more effectively. This will include access to resources as part of the City’s encampment response, including two dedicated outreach specialists who will provide case planning to connect individuals to the system of care and support their individual needs.

“We are thrilled to introduce the community to these positive changes to our encampment response,” says Andrew Malcolm, General Manager of CSD, who provided a submission to Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday. “Taking an outcome-focused approach with more supports, including dedicated staff and a newly identified Outreach Vehicle, will have a direct effect on helping individuals who need help in our city.”

This was the first Encampment Update since Council approved the amended strategy earlier this year. There is approved funding for the Encampment Response for 2024-2026, the 2024 year-to-date is on budget, and there was no increase in funding required to make these changes nor is there a financial request associated with Tuesday’s update. 

Representatives from CSD, including Encampment Staff and Outreach, as well as members of the Watch, were all in attendance at City Hall on Tuesday.

“We’re pleased to collaborate with the City and Community Social Development,” says Watch Manager Shane Kisinger. “Watch members are out in the community every day and it’s a natural fit for our team to be able to provide outreach services in conjunction with CSD as part of our daily work to help connect people with the supports and resources they need.”

The Encampment Strategy, initially approved by City Council in May 2023 and operationalized in June 2023, is the guiding framework for City administration, in partnership with LPS, to provide the community a coordinated and consistent response. It 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.

“As the Downtown Policing Unit Sergeant, I see the positive impact of the Encampment Response Team (ERT) each week removing entrenched encampments,” says Sgt. Ryan Darroch of the LPS. “The ERT clean ups reduce violence, limit social disorder and lead to less calls for service to LPS and EMS. The ERT has huge value and I proudly stand alongside it.”

In alignment with the Encampment Strategy, CSD continues to engage and communicate with key internal and external partners including but not limited to the Interagency Encampment Response Team (IERT), internal departments, community stakeholders and LPS.

Also within the Encampment Strategy is a commitment to clear and consistent communication and reporting to Council and the community through bi-monthly updates to City Council in regularly scheduled Council meetings with aligned media availability.


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