City of Regina 'task force' watching over Camp Marjorie as province works on housing

·2 min read
A task force made up of police, firefighters and Regina city workers are regularly checking on Camp Marjorie, located at Pepsi Park, to ensure the campers and surrounding neighbourhoods stay safe. (Raphaële Frigon/Radio-Canada - image credit)
A task force made up of police, firefighters and Regina city workers are regularly checking on Camp Marjorie, located at Pepsi Park, to ensure the campers and surrounding neighbourhoods stay safe. (Raphaële Frigon/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The City of Regina has created a task force to help those living at Camp Marjorie in Pepsi Park.

"The city doesn't endorse or support a tent city on public property. We do, however, have an obligation to keep people safe in the encampment, as well as the surrounding neighbourhoods," Mayor Sandra Masters told reporters after Wednesday's council meeting.

She added city administration has been meeting with the Ministry of Social Services since the end of August.

Tents were first erected in the downtown core last Friday. It was in preparation for a winter shelter for people dealing with homelessness in the wake of the new Saskatchewan Income Support program.

Under the new program, money for housing is going straight to the people using it rather than directly to landlords. Anti-poverty advocates say the change has led to unpaid rent and evictions.

Most recently, Masters noted, a task force was put together — made up of police officers, firefighters and members of the city's community services branch — to check in on those living in the tents.

She said officials from the ministry visited the camp on Wednesday.

During their visit, Masters said they were able to help four out of the 11 people staying at the camp sign up for services that will help them find a place to live. Mental health supports are also now expected to be made available for those who need them.

Social housing, shelters have vacancies, mayor says

The city is also keeping in contact with various shelters around Regina — all of which have vacancies, Masters said.

There are other openings, she added, at Regina Housing Authority properties, which she and other city councillors recently toured. Masters said the goal is to have the province work with members of the camp to move them into these spaces.

"I truly do believe the city has a role to play in the coordination of these," Masters said. "We're going to continue with this task force to make sure the folks who need housing get through the social services system ... to ensure people are safe."

As a last resort, she said, the province does have the capacity to offer hotel rooms to people who need a place to stay.

Masters said, in the meantime, the city is relying on community-based organizations to make connections with people living at the camp, so they can better access the services they need.

However, without giving a timeline, she emphasized there will come a point in which the encampment will need to be packed up.

"Staying overnight in a city park is not allowed by bylaw," Masters said. "What we're trying to do is work through the next couple of weeks."

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