Last month, Wetaskiwin City Council directed City Administration to work with the RCMP to close the encampment located at 5800 37A Avenue in a culturally sensitive manner.
Following discussions with partner agencies, the Wetaskiwin Emergency Shelter Advisory Board—consisting of stakeholders from Maskwacis Cree Tribal Council, Samson Community Wellness, Maskwacis Health Services, the City of Wetaskiwin, the Mustard Seed, FCSS, RCMP, and the Ministry of Community and Social Services—selected February 20, 2022, as a tentative closure date for the encampment. Notices of closure are currently being delivered to those who remain in the encampment.
The City of Wetaskiwin has stated there is a safety risk in continuing to allow the encampment to exist due to several incidents requiring the response of emergency services.
“City Administration continues to work with our partners in the community and region to ensure we understand and respect all perspectives in closing the current encampment,” said Paul Edginton, General Manager of Community and Protective Services. “The 24/7 emergency shelter — operated by The Mustard Seed — allows our Administration to close the encampment while ensuring those experiencing homelessness have access to much-needed supports.”
The Winter Shelter Advisory Board continues to meet regularly to ensure the coordination of services. In collaboration with these key organizations, the City is coordinating the provision of cultural services to Indigenous community members currently experiencing homelessness within the Wetaskiwin area.
The Mustard Seed Emergency Shelter opened on December 6, 2021, operating at 18 hours a day, before converting to 24/7 operation on December 20, 2021. It will run until March 31, 2022, when the lease for the trailer expires. The City continues to work with other orders of government to find long-term solutions.
Thanks to grant funding provided through Maskwacis Cree Tribal Council, a storage unit has been secured and used by those currently unhoused to store personal belongings securely. The toilets, garbage bins, and fire pits located at the encampment will be removed following the official closure of the site. Administration is working with Maskwacis Mobile Mental Health to provide mental health supports onsite at the encampment while the closure takes place.
For more information about the City of Wetaskiwin’s ongoing efforts to combat homelessness, check out https://www.whatifwetaskiwin.ca/homeless.