Eighth high-risk encampment cleaned in adherence to interim Court Order
January 9, 2024

The scheduled closure of a high-risk encampment in the vicinity of 95th Street and 101A Avenue as part of eight high-risk encampments impacted by recent legal proceedings was modified today. While the planned closure was in full compliance with the City’s obligations under the interim Order, including providing advance notice to social agencies, the City adjusted its approach given the number of third parties onsite. 

A warming bus was provided to occupants while the City, with guidance from an Elder, conducted a partial cleaning of the site. Vacant structures and excessive debris were removed so that some of the onsite health and safety risks were reduced. No occupants left the site today. 

An encampment may be assessed as high risk where there is a serious risk of injury or death due to fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, drug use, gang violence, physical violence including weapons, public health and/or sanitation risks, environmental degradation and/or criminal activity. It is also assessed based on its proximity to local amenities including schools and playgrounds, the number of people and structures in the encampment, if the location has previously been an encampment site and how long it has been in place. 

The risks of injury and death due to fire remain extremely high. In 2023, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to 135 fires in encampments resulting in 22 injuries and three fatalities. In the last week two fires have led to injuries and one propane tank has exploded at encampment sites.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services reminds Edmontonians that open flames or heating elements situated too close to combustibles can start fires. With regard to propane tanks:

  • Propane cylinders should not be exposed to open flames. 
  • Leaking cylinders can easily ignite and heated cylinders can explode. 

The court ordered conditions to clear these eight encampments will remain in effect until January 11, 2024 and include:

  • Before clearing the encampments, City and/or the Edmonton Police Service will make sure there is sufficient shelter space or other indoor space;
  • If there is not enough space, officers will close only if there’s a danger to public health and safety;
  • City will consider the cold weather in decision making;
  • City will advise agencies at earliest convenience about closure;
  • Order does not impact ongoing wellness checks by City staff or fire services;
  • 48 hour notice will be given again to residents; and
  • Notice to include reason, date.

Encampment Closure Facts - as of 3 p.m., Tuesday
Prior to today’s planned closure and cleanup, the City received confirmation from the Government of Alberta that there is sufficient shelter capacity for any individuals leaving the site who wish to access shelters. 

  • Shelter capacity increased today with the addition of the NiGiNan Housing Ventures’ trailer shelters which has 49 spaces and last night’s activation of 50 spaces at the Al Rashid Mosque as part of the City’s extreme weather response. 

  • Bissell Centre staff were on site today, providing support with basic needs, cultural supports, de-escalation, and connections to housing information and supports. The REACH 24/7 Crisis Diversion Teams were also on site to provide transport and support as needed.

  • Today, as with other days, we considered the weather conditions in our decision. The increased risk of frostbite, hypothermia and injury from fire were important factors in the decision to proceed with action. 

  • The extreme weather protocol brings online enhanced supports including additional shelter space. Given the high-risk nature of this encampment, a decision was made to proceed.

  • Even with available shelter space, some Edmontonians experiencing homelessness may sometimes choose not to go to shelters. 

Future Closures
The City continues to receive encampment complaints, and will continue to assess the risk of encampment sites as they are identified. 

This is all the information the City is able to provide at this time. The City is following court order requirements for all encampment closures. The process is dynamic and logistically complex. The City cares about all of its residents. The City is working closely with the Government of Alberta, Edmonton Police Service and social agencies with a continued focus on the safety of the people living in the encampments, staff involved in the closure and community members living and working in the area.

We are providing emergency, effective and efficient response to unsafe, high risk conditions and continue to strongly advocate to the Province and the Federal Government for ongoing significant investments to address the root cause of homelessness: a shortage of safe, adequate and affordable housing and the support people need to maintain it.  
For more information:

Media contact: 
Communications Advisor 
Community Services 

After-Hours Media Manager  

*Please note, because of ongoing legal proceedings, the City will not be available to do interviews.