Tent encampments have continued to be a growing concern here in Lethbridge. As of Friday, the Clean Sweep Program has responded to 150 calls related to encampments throughout our city. The city says 95 per cent of the smaller encampment calls have been resolved. From August 5th to the 11th, 1048 needles and 40 pipes were disposed of by city crews. On August 10th the Clean Sweep Program removed 1,130 kilograms of debris from the tent sites by Civic Centre Park. Mike Fox, the Director of Community Services, says the issue of tent encampments is not an easy fix.
“There isn’t enough permanent supportive housing and we work with the province on that. I believe there will be some transitional housing opening back up. Although I haven’t gotten the final word on that one. I am hoping that provides some options. Entrenched encampments- there’s a lot of studies and information out there that once an encampment becomes entrenched, it is not safe for the occupants or residences surrounding the area. It is better to make sure that we can physically clean up the area and make sure that the area is safe for everybody.”
The city said in a release that since July, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Outreach Mobile Team has been providing ongoing outreach support and service referrals to our city’s most vulnerable, specifically those living in encampments. In addition, the following have been instrumental in providing outreach, information and referral services during encampment responses:
- CMHA’s Community LINKS Integrated Coordinated Access program
- CMHA’s Diversion Outreach Team for transportation services
- Alpha House – Stabilization Support Outreach
- SAGE Clan
- Indigenous Recovery Coach Program
- Alberta Health Services – Addiction and Mental Health Outreach
To date, coordinated encampment responses have occurred:
Along the North side of 2nd Avenue North, along the Kitchen Centre boulevard near the Stabilization Shelter:
- Wednesday, June 1, 2022
- Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7
At the Civic track and surrounding area:
- Thursday, July 14 and Friday, July 15
- Thursday, July 28
- Wednesday, August 3
- Wednesday, August 10
The release went on to add that encampment responses From August 5 to to the 11th include:
- Five people were connected with CMHA’s Outreach Mobile Team to complete referrals to Permanent Supportive Housing programming. An additional two individuals were being re-contacted by OMT on August 12, 2022.
- A total of 341 interactions were completed by CMHA’s OMT and Community LINKS including intakes, referrals, and rapport-building (including 120 at the Civic area).
- CMHA’s Diversion Outreach Team transported individuals to services including the Shelter, Chinook Regional Hospital, Streets Alive, private residences, and others.
The city says weekly cleanups at the encampment by Civic Centre Park will continue and they are working on community engagement for the possibility of bringing in a temporary sober shelter that would be able to accommodate 40 to 60 people.