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City to address safety concerns surrounding homeless camp by Disraeli Freeway
WINNIPEG -- The City of Winnipeg said it is working to address the safety concerns surrounding a homeless camp by the Disraeli Freeway.
This statement comes after Coun. Jeff Browaty called for the removal of the encampment, saying he wants the city to use its own crews to clean up biohazards and waste at homeless camps.
CTV Winnipeg previously reported the city would not hire contractors to remove tent cities following concerns from community advocates, who said the city should find alternate solutions for those living on the streets.
In his statement, Browaty cited letters sent to Mayor Brian Bowman from Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) President David Chartrand, as well as MMF legal counsel, which said it has been instructed to take legal action on behalf of the federation against the city.
The letter from the legal counsel said MMF staff have observed illegal drug use and sales, open fires, indecent exposure, loitering and garbage at the homeless camp by its Henry Avenue office. The letter went on to say the MMF’s parking lot and fence had been urinated and defecated upon, and that staff had been threatened and harassed.
Browaty said the city appears to have stopped using its resources to clean up these homeless encampments.
"In May 2019 plans to contract out the work were scuttled but the work was to continue being done by City of Winnipeg internal crews," he said.
"There has been no direction from Council to change course, but at the moment that work doesn't appear to be happening."
In a statement to CTV Winnipeg, a spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said they are working with partner agencies to find long-term solutions to help those living in these outdoor encampments. The spokesperson noted they have been talking with community partners, such as social service providers, grassroots organizations, people with lived experience, as well as city departments.
“Our short-term direction for collaboration was to ensure that individuals rough sleeping in Winnipeg are provided support,” the statement said.
“We have worked closely with End Homelessness Winnipeg and Main Street Project, among others, to address any issues that arise at numerous temporary outdoor encampments, removing structures only when activities or living conditions were obviously hazardous.”
The spokesperson noted that it’s become evident the encampment by the Disraeli Bridge “requires further action” amid concerns raised by community partners and city departments.
“We are working with our partners to take action and address the safety concerns at this site.”
The mayor’s office said Bowman spoke with Chartrand about his letter on May 21.
The city’s legal department is reviewing the matter and will respond directly to MMF legal counsel.
The mayor will not comment on the situation until the legal department’s review.