Report on homeless Edmontonians being kicked out of LRT station 'appalling' and 'inconsistent': community advocate
EDMONTON -- A report on two controversial incidents that occurred during Edmonton's cold snap in February is appalling and inconsistent according to one community advocate.
The report outlined information about the city's Extreme Weather Protocol and touched on the removal of homeless individuals from an LRT station and the removal of an encampment on public land near the Hope Mission.
"The decision to remove the encampment by EPS was completed in the interest of safety for the effected individuals," said deputy city manager Rob Smyth during Wednesday's community and public services committee meeting.
The report said the Feb. 14 incident – where Edmontonians seeking shelter were told to leave the LRT station in minus 30-degree weather – was still under investigation.
However, it states in general, the city's approach to individuals experiencing homelessness is "safety first" and called their health and safety "of paramount importance."
It also states the city strives to treat these individuals with "dignity and respect."
Rob Houle, who is on the city's community safety and well-being task force, said that is not how the individuals impacted were treated that cold February night.
"We're missing the humanity of the people who were directly affected by this. We're missing any kind of direct follow up," he said.
The report states there were increased police and peace officer patrols during the extreme weather response and that individuals are "asked to leave premises at scheduled closure times, as the last step, if they were not observing physical distancing requirements, refusing to wear a mask, or creating a disturbance or disorder."
"The reports read very much like the victims of these actions are the perpetrators," Houle said. "They were not being violent or being belligerent or causing social disorder, they were being served by a community-based organization."
The mayor acknowledged that while the city's report lacks compassion, recent discussions around homelessness have had the proper tone and focus.
"Hubs, shelters, crisis diversion, whatever we want to call it, I think everyone is talking about that. I think the challenge is we have to deliver it," said Don Iveson.
The report also stated February's extreme weather response increased shelter space and provided 1,337 trips to individuals seeking refuge.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson