With an increasing number of rough sleeper camps being reported over the last month, the City of Red Deer is focusing heavily on cleanup efforts across the city. However, citizens are encouraged to continue reporting rough sleeper camps to the City of Red Deer.
Over the summer, a collaborative cleanup and outreach team worked to respond to 83 camps, which resulted in connecting with 153 individuals about housing and 70 referrals to non-housing related social services. This collaborative approach was part of a pilot project for an enhanced collaborative response. The pilot ran from June to August 2018.
“Community safety for all citizens is what matters most when it comes to ensuring our parks, trails and community spaces are safe, clean and accessible for all,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “It is the result of joint efforts on the part of citizens, community partners and local agencies alike that we were able to connect with and have 153 individual conversations as part of the collaborative camp clean-up process.”
All camps need to be reported to the non-emergency RCMP/Bylaw complaint line at 403-343-5575. When reporting a rough sleeper camp, you may be asked for personal information such as your name and phone number so Community Peace Officers (CPOs) can follow up on your complaint and ensure they know where the camp is located.
When a camp is reported, CPOs go to the reported site and, when their investigation is complete, they issue a 24 hour eviction notice. The CPOs then work with City of Red Deer staff to clean up the area within 14 days, whenever possible.
The process to respond to rough sleeper camps is as follows:
1. Citizens contact the RCMP/ Bylaw complaint line to report the camp.
2. A Municipal Enforcement Officer is dispatched to the reported camp site, which is often vacant.
3. Once this work is complete, the issuing officer posts a 24-hour eviction notice, which contains social
support services contact information.
4. Municipal Enforcement then communicates with City of Red Deer staff, who are scheduled to complete
weekly camp cleanups.
This approach and process is aimed at preventing the displacement and reoccupation of rough sleepers within the park system by attempting to house people.
“We will continue to balance the needs of all citizens as City staff and community partners respond to calls for rough sleeper camp clean-up including, but not limited to, needle debris and the need for housing and treatment supports,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We strongly encourage citizens to report through the formal complaint line to ensure a timely response.”
The collaborative approach to address rough sleeper camps in Red Deer’s parks and other green spaces resulted in the removal of 16 tonnes of debris and 1,005 needles between June 1 and August 30, 2018. City staff spent approximately 1,343 hours cleaning up camps, with Turning Point and the Safe Harbour society providing outreach support to individuals living at 35 of the 83 camps cleaned up over the summer months.
For more information about rough sleeper camps, visit www.reddeer.ca.
-Submitted by City of Red Deer