REGINA – NEWS – Regina city council has scheduled a special meeting to address the encampment of unhoused individuals that has been growing outside of city hall since mid-June.
The meeting will solely focus on a recommendation prepared by the city manager’s office. The recommendation seeks city council’s direction on how to deal with the encampment in the short-term.
A 20-page report detailing the ever-evolving “challenges” linked to the encampment that has been established in the front courtyard since June 15 has been prepared. According to a point-in-time count conducted on Tuesday, there were 83 tents on site, housing 28 individuals. The report highlights that the daily count varies, and over the past two weeks, there have been as many as 76 individuals present on a daily basis.
Within the camp, there have been a total of twenty overdoses, tragically resulting in one fatality. Additionally, in three other instances, individuals declined treatment offered by first responders or volunteers.
Regina Police have responded to 36 calls related to the encampment, which included complaints about potential weapons on site, incidents of vandalism, violent threats, drug-related issues, intoxication concerns, and requests for conducting wellness checks.
There have been two reported fires at the site, prompting Regina Fire & Protective Services to take action by removing one propane tank and addressing problematic power outlets and extension cords that posed risks to the electrical infrastructure.
The city authorities express serious concern for public health as incidents of public urination and defecation in the area have seen a significant surge, despite efforts like relocating a portable washroom from Victoria Park to the courtyard. Furthermore, both staff and visitors have reported feeling unsafe due to the prevailing situation.
A survey was conducted among the 550 employees working at city hall at the beginning of this week, and it yielded a significant three-quarter participation rate. The survey findings revealed that 82 per cent of the employees expressed that the encampment has had a negative impact on their well-being.
More than 70 per cent of the respondents stated that they do not support the presence of the encampment, and an additional two-thirds of the participants requested to make changes to their daily routines due to the camp’s presence.
Survey respondents expressed serious concerns about biohazards and overall safety in the vicinity of city hall’s front doors and public areas. According to reports, facilities and park staff have encountered instances of intravenous drug use in the washrooms, had to clean up human feces, and faced threatening gestures and comments.
A significant number of employees acknowledged that the encampment represents their initial encounter with people experiencing homelessness. The survey also acknowledges that, while their concerns may not necessarily align with the actual risks, the impact on their well-being is genuine.