The Coalition for Justice and Human Rights (CJHR) has filed a lawsuit against the City of Edmonton, claiming that evicting homeless people from encampments is a violation of their human rights. The CJHR argues that despite the city’s awareness of the inadequate housing and shelter provisions for all Edmontonians, it continues to displace encampments without providing a reasonable solution. The actions of the city have put vulnerable individuals in dangerous situations, thereby violating their fundamental human rights as outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
According to the CJHR, there are currently 3,137 homeless people in Edmonton, with nearly 1,400 individuals sleeping in shelters or outside. The CJHR highlights the dangers faced by these individuals, including the risk of frostbite, amputations, pneumonia, hypothermia, and even death. Chris Wiebe, a lawyer representing the CJHR, asserts that there is insufficient shelter space in the city, with the number of available beds peaking at around 1,200 in the past two years.
The CJHR argues that despite the knowledge that there is no alternative shelter for these individuals, the city consistently informs those staying in encampments that they are in violation of bylaws and must move along. This displacement often results in the loss of personal belongings and the formation of new encampments in nearby areas.
Homeward Trust, a non-profit organization that provides support to encampment residents, explains that the city only dismantles camps that pose a high risk of fires or serious crime. CEO Susan McGee emphasizes that not all encampments are the same and acknowledges the community’s efforts to approach the issue thoughtfully and respectfully.
The City of Edmonton has acknowledged the legal action and is preparing to discuss and defend its approaches in court. Council held a special meeting to address the matter, and the city has until September 18 to file its statement of defense.
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