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Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness Joins Condemnation of Edmonton Encampment Closure Plans

December 15, 2023 - 6:28 pm / News

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) joins the condemnation of the Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) plan to displace vulnerable Edmontonians the week before Christmas. The EPS must halt their plans, which will only hurt those who are forced to live in intolerable conditions. 

Encampments are unsafe. The risks to those who are forced to shelter there are high. However, those in encampments shelter there because there are no other appropriate options. Displacing vulnerable residents in an already extremely precarious situation will only force them to move elsewhere and cause significant trauma. 

The timing of this involuntary clearing is troubling. Displacing vulnerable people the week before Christmas, while many people are focusing on the upcoming holidays, feels like an attempt to hide the EPS’ actions. These folks have nowhere else to go and deserve the dignity of peace, without being harassed, particularly during the holiday season. 

It is extremely concerning that the social service agencies with the closest relationships to the people in encampments are being asked to stay away from the police operation due to “safety” concerns. We are deeply worried that the EPS is expecting this decampment to become violent, which will only further traumatize vulnerable Edmontonians sheltering in encampments. 

Police services should not be leading homelessness response anywhere in Canada. Responses to homelessness and encampments must be led by agencies that serve those experiencing homelessness and be focused on finding permanent housing for those forced to shelter outside. 

Edmonton, like the rest of Canada, faces a severe affordability crisis. Housing is unaffordable for many. There are insufficient emergency shelter beds. A police response to people trying to keep themselves safe in intolerable conditions is not a solution to the housing crisis. 

Everyone in Canada has a right to housing. But for too many people, that right is currently not being realized, including those forced to shelter in encampments. Encampments must be resolved. They represent a failure of our ability to house our people. But the resolution is to fix the housing crisis, provide appropriate social services to those in need and support them into permanent housing — not forced displacement by police forces.

We call on the EPS to stop their plans to clear Edmonton’s encampments and we call on the City of Edmonton to offer permanent solutions to vulnerable Edmontonians who are forced to shelter in encampments. 

Send Edmonton City Councillors, the Police Commission and the Police Chief a message and tell them to stop the forced encampment closures.