City, police and organizers meet at Old Strathcona homeless camp on eviction day
EDMONTON -- Signs were set up at a homeless camp in Old Strathcona Friday morning in protest of an eviction order by the City of Edmonton.
Some read, “Pride is love. Please help,” or “Color does not matter. We are brothers and sisters. Live together.”
However, another spelled out the intention of those at Peace Camp clearer: “We will never leave.”
A nearby alley was also blocked off with garbage dumpsters, a pallet and some scooters.
“A little bit scared of if the tents start getting torn down. We’ve got to figure out how to protect them somehow,” camp organizer and resident Cameron Noyes told CTV News Edmonton.
“We’ve been talking about all kinds of non-violent solutions. That’s our intention for the whole day.”
The city ordered the camp in Dr. Wiflred McIntyre Park to disassemble on Thursday, and gave residents a Friday, 10 a.m., deadline.
But by mid-morning, the camp was standing as it had the night before and a number of people had joined the roughly 40 campers to form a line around tents.
City officials, peace officers and Edmonton Police Service members had also arrived by that time.
“No one wants to see homeless people in our city. We don’t want to see them in the river valley or on the street or just wandering around,” Jackie Foord of the city’s social development branch said.
“This is a difficult situation and it brings no joy to anyone to have to stand here today and tell people to move along.”
During a meeting with authorities, Noyes said he reiterated demands previously made by his group.
Supportive and affordable housing is at the top of the list, alongside a supervised injection site and access to what they called a safe drug supply to reduce the risk of using laced substances.
Another meeting was happened off camera and off site. After that meeting, Noyes said the camp had been granted a one week extension.
“During that week the EPS and Peace Officers are getting the city to bring down housing workers and some other mental workers, stuff like that that we need.”
But a city spokesperson denied that an extension had been granted, saying discussions are ongoing with the camp organizer.”
According to the city, camp organizers said they would set a date to dismantle by but never did.
Officials said they had four meetings with the group prior to Thursday’s eviction notice.
Although the document said the tents had to be taken down by 10 a.m., residents actually have until 11 p.m., when the park closes, to leave.
Peace Camp was set up on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River valley less than two weeks ago.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson