Winterization efforts underway at Edmonton’s Camp Pekiwewin

Winter doesn’t officially start until the end of December, but it won’t be long before the temperature drops. The change in season is already on the radar for those living in an encampment in the Edmonton community of Rossdale.

“Winterization is going to be a process — it’s one were in the middle of,” said Camp Pekiwewin media liaison Shima Robinson.

“We have a yurt now, we have some plans for storage [and] for things like naloxone kits, which are absolutely necessary on site because we are a harm-reduction space.”

The camp says it is also in the process of adding more robust structures, while working to acquire more weather-appropriate supplies.

“We have to prepare for the cold weather because we do not have a good scope or understanding of what’s going to be happening, either with the weather or with the situation on camp,” Robinson said.

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The uncertainty of where they will be housed in the winter has left many living at the camp worried.

“There’s a lot of concern about the cold weather in terms of how we’re going to be transitioning people into housing while that cold weather is in its onset,” Robinson said.

“We would like the city to double down on their efforts to assist.”

The city has indicated that it believes the need to shut the camp down is urgent. The city said it has raised concerns with camp organizers about the impact that cold weather may have on sanitation and the potential for a COVID-19 outbreak.

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“I hope that we can find a solution that houses people before we hit -30 C,” Robinson said.

“I mean, our winters are brutal [but] the onset of winter is not usually a hit of -30 C right away. We have some time.”

The camp said while the city works on a solution, it will continue its efforts to keep people warm and safe.

The city has not set a deadline for when it wants the Rossdale camp to be dismantled.

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