Nearly one month after declaring homelessness an emergency, Edmonton city councillors have been presented with four dozen potential solutions.
In a report delivered to a special council meeting Monday, City of Edmonton administration outlined the actions.City manager Andre Corbould told councillors funds could be taken from the operating budget, contingency funding, dividends or review all recent funding decisions and see what money could be reallocated.“The declaration of council’s emergency, in my mind, changed the context of all funding decisions,” Corbould said when explaining the ideas.Councillors, however, did not seem keen to take those actions.Other options include identifying surplus school sites that are not immediately needed and providing them to organizations to build housing on. Story continues below advertisement
Councillor Tim Cartmell expressed frustration that hasn’t been done already, as many of the sites are already serviced.Global News asked Mayor Amarjeet Sohi why, if homelessness is an emergency, all 48 ideas weren’t immediately acted upon.
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“This is an emergency that has been caused by decades of underinvestment in the social infrastructure including non-market housing,” the mayor responded.“So it’s going to take us time to deal with it.”
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Councillor Erin Rutherford will join the province’s homelessness task force.“I think we need to be really realistic about what that task force can achieve,” Rutherford said.“There is $3.5 million. I’d like to see that being used in unique and innovative ways,” she said referring to funding set aside during the emergency declaration.
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Monday councillors also received an update on the efforts to clean up encampments throughout Edmonton.Between Jan. 17 and Feb.8, 191 sites had been dismantled and cleaned.Councillors heard 282 people have been displaced since mid-January. Of those people, 152 accepted an offer to go to the new provincial navigation centre.The centre connects people with housing, addictions treatment and other social services.The province will examine the effectiveness of the centre after 30 days of operation.In 2023, there was an average of 1,435 calls into 311 each month complaining of encampments.January saw 206 complaints.
Civic Matters Feb. 5: Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi
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