City says protest camp's move broke spirit of agreement
EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton says organizers of a homeless camp broke the spirit of a mutual agreement when they relocated their tents two blocks from a site they had been ordered to vacate.
The city first ordered the homeless encampment to disassemble nine days ago.
After a protest over the eviction, and further meetings with officials, the gathering of unhoused people living in tents in Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park moved a short distance north to Light Horse Park on Sunday.
A city spokesperson called the move "disappointing" and that area homeless shelters had ample space available.
"The camp organizers' decision to relocate the camp 200 metres away, instead of closing the camp and accessing available space at shelters, is disappointing and not in the spirit of the commitment they made to the city," a city spokesperson told CTV News.
- Peace Camp agrees to close voluntarily on Sept. 28
- City, police and organizers meet at Old Strathcona homeless camp on eviction day
Camp organizers say they have no plans to close the relocated camp.
“I wish we didn’t have to move because we were starting to get settled here,” said Cameron Noyes.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said the city is will working on securing more supportive housing through buying up hotels and apartment buildings.
"Clearly it shows that we’re into the space of the absurd now, where the real answer is housing, not pushing the problem around," said Iveson.
"I think it’s time to look at the need for another temporary shelter as things get cooler."
Officials from the city, peace officers and police have been meeting with camp organizers for weeks.
A recent statement from the city confirmed those in Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park had until Sept. 28 to remove the camp, after the initial order to close on Sept. 18 was not followed.
In the days since the eviction deadline passed, the city also says social service providers Homeward Trust and Boyle Street also visited Peace Camp to inform them of any space. Noyes was happy to report that some of the people at Peace Camp were housed, but believes an encampment is the best temporary solution for others.
“We would be sending people back to a dangerous situation if they have to move back to Mill Creek Ravine or the river valley. So I don’t think we had a choice. So we’re going to stick by them for as long as we can,” Noyes told CTV News Edmonton, adding he wants more government resources allocated for housing.
Residents of the relocated camp say they plan to protest any future eviction orders.
With files from Sean Amato and Jeremy Thompson