Thank you Global News for covering this important topic: Homeless Camps
Encampments of unsheltered citizens are increasing throughout Winnipeg. This year, so far, I am aware of three locations in the Waverley West ward. The encampments are being monitored by multiple organizations (Main Street Project, Winnipeg Fire Paramedics, Winnipeg Police Service, Indigenous Services, Community Services, Public Works, and myself). Encampments present challenging situations for people living IN and AROUND the encampment.
- The City of Winnipeg, along with many partners, has a Strategy to Support Unsheltered Winnipeggers. See additional information related to the Unsheltered Strategy
IF YOU COME ACROSS AN ENCAMPMENT:
- See the overview on dealing with Encampments on Public Property
- Please know Main Street Project goes out regularly to assess and provide help to people in encampments, with the ultimate goal of finding them housing and long term care
The City of Winnipeg is taking a ‘humanistic help’ approach vs a ‘bring the equipment in and remove’ approach. IF the City brings equipment in to remove, people will relocate and set up a camp somewhere else. The GOAL is to get people who are living in the encampments the help they need – no one wants to be living in these conditions, there are mental health and other issues that cause this.
- The City is accessing the Main Street Project organization which has a vehicle to respond to the City’s calls – 24 x 7 – around the clock to address where encampments are on PUBLIC LANDS.
- When a call is made, the City dispatches the Main Street Project to assess and see what help is required.
- Please see Encampment Support Process. The goal is to ‘help’ vs just remove.
- If you suspect criminal activity, please contact the police.
- If it an emergency contact 911.
- If it’s not an emergency, contact the Police Non-Emergency line: (204) 986-5624
- If people are using public space for drug injection that is a criminal activity , please contact WPS.
LEGALITIES OF TENTING ON PUBLIC PROPERTY
While I agree with trying to provide support and help to people, we must recognize we are a society that is organized by laws, that should be enforced. If we do not enforce laws, eventually, situations evolve that are extremely difficult to control and can negatively impact society as a whole.
- The Parks By-law 85/2009 (page 7) states: “Unless authorized by the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) , a person must not set up a tent or a recreational vehicle in a park and a person must not sleep overnight in a park.”
- The Mayor and the Executive Policy Committee have the authority to direct the CAO. The direction the CAO is receiving is to ‘leave the encampments in place and have Main Street Project work with the unsheltered people to provide support’.
Please know, members of the Winnipeg Police Service do not enforce City of Winnipeg by-laws.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT:
People are living in bus shelters and encampments because of many issues related to mental health challenges. The City of Winnipeg does not deliver mental health services – BUT is dealing with the resulting impacts of mental health issues.
- The Province of Manitoba delivers mental health services.
It is important to note some of the City of Winnipeg’s key service delivery areas are providing water, sewer services, garbage services, snow removal and other key operations. It is also important to note, some of the Province of Manitoba’s key service delivery areas are health, family services, and housing. If we had more mental health support services, we would not be seeing as many people living on the streets and riverbanks in Winnipeg. Please reach out to your Provincial elected representative and request more mental health supports.