April 12th, 2024

Behaviours adjusting to city encampment response

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on September 20, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Fewer entrenched encampments and structures have been seen in the city this summer, says a report made to city council Tuesday by General Manager of Community Social Development Andrew Malcolm.

The City’s strategy has been a response to the encampment situation in Lethbridge, a response that includes offering outreach services to those who are experiencing homelessness here.

In the last two co-ordinated cleanups, there was an average of less than 400 kilograms of debris picked up. The year-to-date average is 1,600 kg of debris removed per cleanup so the volume has dropped by 75 per cent.

The City said in a statement to media this is an indication of “less severe and entrenched encampments.”

There have been 247 calls about encampments to the city since June 19. Of those, 116 were identified as encampments that required varying levels of support. The other calls were for related topics including debris, unsightly premises, messes in a lane and were dealt with by other departments within the city.

Eighteen co-ordinated cleanups have dealt with a total of 569 structures and the removal of 28,608 kg of debris.

The City says it has been able to reallocate provincial funding dedicated to needle debris cleanup “that will help support an increased presence of the Clean Sweep Program as an integral part of the encampment response.”

Malcolm told council a change in behaviour is being seen by the response team with more compliance by residents of encampments.

After his presentation, Malcolm told media the goal of the strategy is create safe public spaces for the community, preventing entrenchment of encampments and giving supports to the vulnerable.

He said the team is focused on providing social connections to people who need a hand up and not a handout.

“We’re certainly starting to see the behaviours change. We’re seeing a decrease in volume of calls, a decrease of volumes in structures and a significant decrease in the amount of debris and waste coming from encampment sites,” Malcolm said.

The City expects a trend of fewer winter encampments to continue this year but the Encampment Response Team will remain fully staffed. Council will hear the final update in October.

In winter, the City says fire prevention becomes more of a safety issue in regards to camps with more people looking for heating sources such as in abandoned buildings.

That shift to winter operations will start in November with the City turning its attention to partnering with Fire/EMS to work on exploring vacant properties since the City did see an uptick in fires in them last year, said Malcolm.

The City is reminding residents to secure all vacant buildings.

The response team will be doing a review of its first season of operations in upcoming months and present recommendations to council before the strategy is implemented next spring.

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Citi Zen

We reported an encampment in Gyro Park last week to the 311 number. They seemed clearly disinterested, said they would do a report. Checked a few days later, still there. Another overpaid bureaucratic job in City Hall.

Kal Itea

“The Stasi kept files on about 5.6 million people. The Stasi had 90,000 full-time employees who were assisted by 170,000 full-time unofficial collaborators (Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter); together these made up 1 in 63 (nearly 2%) of the entire East German population.