Rossdale homeless encampment closed, city helping to relocate individuals to shelters

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Camp Pekiwewin, the volunteer-run homeless camp in Rossdale that first set up tents in late July, is now closed, the City of Edmonton said in a statement Thursday.

Police were at the encampment Thursday, as city staff and housing-outreach workers helped to relocate people who were still on site.

A charter bus was available to move them to shelters, including the Edmonton Convention Centre, while bus tickets were offered to those choosing not to use the provided transportation, the city said in a statement.

Last month, organizers announced the camp would officially shut down last week but asked that residents be given added time, if necessary, to vacate the site.

Dave Bajer/CBC News
Dave Bajer/CBC News

The decision to close followed an announcement from the City of Edmonton that the Edmonton Convention Centre would be opening up as a shelter for the winter.

The city notes that increased demand for shelter spaces during the recent cold weather saw some facilities, including the convention centre, reaching capacity this past weekend.

"When lineups form at Edmonton Convention Centre, those waiting in line are transported to shelters where capacity is available," the city said.

Currently, there are 766 spaces in the shelter system with options for 140 more.

As of Thursday, a shelter at Commonwealth Stadium, operated with Hope Mission, has moved to 24/7 operations, providing day and night sleeping options, meal service and access to social service

Dave Bajer/CBC News
Dave Bajer/CBC News

Housing-outreach workers have met in recent months with 318 individuals from encampments at Camp Pekiwewin, Light Horse/McIntyre Park, and the Terrace Building, according to the city. As of Nov. 5, 73 individuals had started intake into housing first programs, 19 had accessed bridge housing and 36 were settled into permanent housing.

"We thank our agency partners for all the work they have done since the camp was established to help transition people from the encampment into temporary accommodations and find pathways to permanent housing," the city said in its statement.