November 12, 2020
The Camp Pekiwewin encampment in Rossdale is now closed. Following closure notices posted at the camp on Sunday, November 8, City of Edmonton staff advised those remaining onsite today that this parkland is closed. A charter bus was available for those interested in relocating to available space in the shelter system. The City has begun work to clean up the site and expect that will take several days to complete.
Over several months, the City has worked towards a peaceful closure of this encampment by actively engaging with the camp organizers. In support of the organizers’ recent announcement of a wind down of the camp, the City provided charter bus transportation from Camp Pekiwewin to the Edmonton Convention Centre and other shelter options over multiple days. The City also provided the organizers with bus tickets for camp occupants to use public transit to relocate themselves outside of the charter bus schedule.
We thank our agency partners for all the work they have done since the camp was established to help transition people from the encampment into temporary accommodations and find pathways to permanent housing. Our collective priority has always been the safety of those in the camp and the surrounding community.
Housing outreach workers continue to work with those experiencing homelessness to transition them to better housing situations. In the past few months, the Outreach and Coordinated Access team led by Homeward Trust, the Bissell Centre, and Boyle Street Community Services met with 318 individuals from encampments at Camp Pekiwewin, Light Horse/McIntyre Park, and the Terrace Building. These individuals received screening, triage, and referrals to housing services and programs best suited to address their circumstances. As of November 5:
- 73 individuals completed intake to housing first programs
- 19 of these individuals have accessed Bridge Housing and are working to secure permanent housing
- 36 of these individuals have been housed in permanent housing
Since the pandemic was declared in March, more than 1,000 Edmontonians have accessed housing thanks to the collective efforts of social agencies and housing providers.
Recent cold weather has increased demand for shelter spaces in Edmonton. Some facilities, such as the temporary accommodation at the Edmonton Convention Centre, reached capacity each night this past weekend; however, spaces continue to be available at other facilities, such as the overnight shelter operated by Hope Mission at Commonwealth Stadium. When lineups form at Edmonton Convention Centre, those waiting in line are transported to shelters where capacity is available. As of November 9, Community and Social Services noted that there were 766 shelter spaces in the system with options for 140 additional spaces as needed to respond to increases in demand, in addition to the Edmonton Convention Centre.
As of Thursday, November 12, a shelter at Commonwealth Stadium has moved to 24/7 operations. In partnership with Hope Mission, the City has made this space available in response to increased demand for indoor accommodations and services for Edmonton’s most vulnerable. The shelter is providing day and night sleeping options, meal service and access to social services.
The City is working with social agencies to discuss additional ways to respond to the surge in demand at the Edmonton Convention Centre created by recent cold weather. This immediate response is part of a longer term approach that includes creating additional bridge housing and permanent housing capacity in Edmonton. This work aligns with efforts to be inclusive and compassionate in addressing chronic and episodic homelessness as identified in the City Plan.