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'We were heard': Sohi says meeting with Smith to address Edmonton homelessness, disorder went well


Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he had a "very positive" first meeting with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in the legislature on Tuesday morning.

In the meeting that included three Alberta ministers, the mayor highlighted the capital city gets less financial support than Calgary to address homelessness and addictions.

Edmonton has 622 shelter beds compared to Calgary's 1,736, according to data the city attributed to the province.

As of February 2023, Edmonton had 2,815 homeless people, Homeward Trust data shows. Calgary had 2,782 homeless people as of September 2022, according to Calgary Homeless Foundation data.

Edmonton also has more drug-poisoning deaths and more EMS calls, the mayor said.

"These were shocking numbers…these discrepancies were acknowledged by the province," Sohi added.

To address that, Sohi asked Smith for the following supports:

  • More permanent 24-7 shelter beds to meet the target of 1,250 spaces and reach parity with Calgary;
  • $18 million a year for 70-100 bridge housing units;
  • 550 units of supportive housing to expand recovery-oriented care;
  • Funding to shelter providers to avoid encampments and social disorder in the downtown core and Chinatown;
  • Additional treatment spaces to address drug-poisoning crisis;
  • $100 million to revitalize areas like Chinatown, Downtown, Whyte Avenue, 107 Avenue and 118 Avenue; and
  • A release plan when people from correctional facilities or hospitals are dropped off in Edmonton

The City of Edmonton included seven needs it wants the Alberta government to address. (Brandon Lynch/CTV News Edmonton)

"I feel that we were heard and at the end of the meeting, I asked the premier if [she] is committed to working with us on delivering on those seven needs for Edmonton that we have identified, as well as the support that was announced in October 2022, whether they'll work with us on those, and she showed a strong desire to work with us," the mayor said after the meeting.

"I'm optimistic but it has to be followed by action and I hope that they'll seriously consider the needs that we have identified to make our community safe, our downtown safe, and really tackle the issues of homelessness, mental health, addictions crisis, and its impact on communities, its impact on people and its impact on businesses."

In a statement, the premier's office said Smith is "committed to working with the city of Edmonton on the issues they raised, but identified the need for detailed plans to address their specific asks." Top Stories

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