Residents of eighth encampment to be taken down hoping to stay

The removal of the eighth and final high-risk encampment was postponed, according to advocates. As Laura Krause reports, the Extreme Weather Response was activated by the city due to extreme cold.

Residents of an encampment south of Jasper Avenue were huddled around a fire Monday, keeping warm on one of the first of many cold days to come.

People were ready to be evicted Monday. The encampment near Rowland Road is the eighth and final high-risk encampment the city and police have scheduled to take down.

“This is home. And they’re taking it away from these people,” said Roy Cardinal, encampment resident.

Photo of eviction notice on a tent at an encampment south of Jasper Avenue. (Photo Credit: Laura Krause, CityNews)

But the city has yet to say when that would happen, under an emergency injunction from December, police must consider the weather and all the potential harm associated with encampment closures during the cold.

“I think we would have lost one or two to frostbite or to pneumonia. They wouldn’t go to a shelter. They don’t like to be talked down to or mistreated. They would find someplace to be by themselves,” said Cardinal.

The city says it is “following court order requirements for all encampment closures.”

The City of Edmonton activated its Extreme Weather Response Monday at noon. This means 50 temporary shelter spaces will open at the Al Rashid Mosque in north Edmonton. A third bus will be added to the overnight Winter Shelter Shuttle service, to ensure people have access to emergency shelter spaces. But the city says LRT stations and transit stations are not appropriate for warming or shelter purposes.

“These are our homes” is spray painted across a tarp in camp. Cardinal is hoping to get the point across, saying he will be putting down his foot when the city and police try to dismantle his home.

Photo of tents spray painted “These are our homes.” (Photo Credit: Laura Krause, CityNews)

“I’m going to make a stance that we are heard, and that something can be done about this. There’s not going to be any violence towards anybody in this. There’s going to be an understanding.”

In the meantime, one advocate is relieved to see the residents may be able to stay here just a few days longer, but hopes for longer, as a human rights group returns to court Wednesday- trying to put a stop to all encampment closures city-wide.

“Where are they going to go? The ground is frozen now, so the ground is cold. Where they are, it’s already warm because they’ve been on it,” said Nadine Chalifoux, Chair-person with Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness.

The city’s Extreme Weather Response is expected to remain in effect until late next week.

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