Homeless support camp in Old Strathcona park granted seven-day extension from the city to plan next steps

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Camp organizer Cameron Noyes said he is pleased with the week extension and is currently looking at other options for those who will remain unhoused after the camp is closed. Noyes said he’s hopeful a lot can be done within the next week to provide housing for as many as the camp residents as possible.

“It is a crunch to do this in seven days but as long as we get this rolling for as many people as we can in the camp, we’re ahead of where we were,” he said in an interview with Postmedia Monday. “What we would like to see is, of course, actually everybody housed, but right now we need to see the social workers come in and just help with the housing for right now, and that is happening.”

The plan for those who will remain unhoused after the camp closure is to stick together as much as possible so supports, shelter and meals can continue to be provided, but will involve relocating to a less visible area, Noyes said.

An aid to accelerate housing also came Monday in the form of $1 billion from the federal government to rapidly create affordable housing across Canada. This funding, which hasn’t been dispersed to municipalities yet, can be used to construct new modular housing, acquire land or purchase existing buildings, such as hotels or apartment complexes, and convert into affordable housing units. The federal government said this rapid housing initiative expects to create up to 3,000 new affordable housing units across the country.

But with about 1,900 people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton alone, Noyes said there is still a long way to go.

“There’s a lot more than 3,000 unhoused people in Canada, but if we’ve got that kind of push from the federal government we can work toward at least ending a lot of this if not all of it,” he said.

Mayor Don Iveson said the investment is a huge step forward to ending homelessness and he hopes to see more plans from the government in Wednesday’s throne speech.

“The billion dollars is a huge step forward. It’s not quite sufficient to the scale of the need that we see, but it’s a huge indication from the federal government that they agree that there’s an opportunity here,” he said.

Meanwhile, council endorsed the proposed Indigenous names for Edmonton’s 12 redefined wards as of the 2021 election. The adjusted bylaw will now be advertised before council votes on making it official Dec. 7. The proposed names passed by a vote of 9-4 with councillors Mike Nickel. Jon Dziadyk, Tony Caterina and Moe Banga in opposition.

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