With Edmonton Police Services ready to start breaking up some of the homeless camps in downtown Edmonton this morning, opponents of the mass clearances will circulate a letter to Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and City Council imploring them to intervene to seek a moratorium on the rousts. 

An EPS mobile CCTV unit near the 105th Avenue encampment (Photo: Public Interest Alberta).

“We are formally requesting that you immediately convene an emergency City Council meeting to explore the use of your powers as Council to halt the violent and disruptive decampment of hundreds of community members from the only shelter they currently have,” says the letter, which last night had been signed by 20 First Nations elders, community and political leaders, business people, and organizations.

“At least until the treaty rights and human rights of our neighbours and family can be determined, we implore you to use your power and moral authority to call for a moratorium,” says the letter, which will be presented to Mr. Sohi this morning. 

“We know you understand the hardships experienced by community members in the shelter system,” it continues. “We know you understand these hardships rival and often outweigh those experienced when staying in encampments.

“We are committed to supporting you in achieving your goals of an Edmonton for all based on treaty and human rights. Right now, we need to walk together and we need to take a solidly trauma-informed approach to how colonial institutions interact with and support unhoused people.”

Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Bradley Lafortune said that by last night signatories to the letter were:

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Leilani Farha, global director, Make the Shift, and former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing; Blake Desjarlais, MP for Edmonton-Griesbach; Joe Vipond, physician and University of Calgary professor; Heather Smith, president, United Nurses of Alberta; Danielle Larivee, First Vice-President, United Nurses of Alberta; Rachelle Gladue and Bryce Ward, Tawaw Outreach; Lewis Cardinal, project manager, kihcihkaw askî Sacred Land and Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre; Rory Gill, president, CUPE Alberta; the Coalition of Justice and Human Rights; the Muslim Association of Canada, Edmonton; Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour; Jon Manning, Jon Manning Writes; Katy Ingraham, Fleisch Delikatessen; Gary Savard, Greater Edmonton Alliance; Chris Gallaway, Friends of Medicare; Noah Kenneally, Edmonton resident; Angie Staines, 4B Harm Reduction; Darren McGeown, Arcadia Brewing Co.; and Mike Parker, president, Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

Mr. Lafortune said more signatures may be added today. 

Readers will recall that Edmonton police and the city of Edmonton on one side and the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights on the other reached a deal on Dec. 18 to impose a few conditions on the EPS plan to bust up the eight encampments immediately before Christmas. 

Court of King’s Bench Justice Kent Davidson granted an interim injunction based on the agreement that placed a few conditions on the police – among them a degree of due process in the form of 48 hours’ notice if a camp is about to be broken up, assurances there are enough shelter spaces for camp residents before a roust proceeds, and no camp closings in extreme cold weather.

Notices were given to people living in the encampment west of the Quasar Bottle Depot at 9510-105 Avenue on Boxing Day. 

PIA Executive Director Bradley Lafortune (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The interim injunction is to remain in force until Jan. 11, when the coalition is scheduled to be back in court seeking a permanent injunction against encampment removals until a court can hear its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the city’s policies for closing down the tent encampments. 

In the meantime, though, the leadership of the police service, the provincial government, and elements in the city government have been anxious to proceed with clearances.

It’s interesting to compare the enthusiasm in official circles in Alberta for clearing homeless encampments with an iron fist and the same people’s insistence in 2022 that the border blockades by so-called convoy “freedom” protesters be treated with kid gloves.

The first encampment is expected to be broken up at the 105 Avenue site starting around 8 a.m. An Edmonton police mobile CCTV unit was in place nearby yesterday. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness asked for non-interfering witnesses to observe the process. “The more people who understand how brutal and nasty this process is, and let others know, the greater the possibility that public pressure will push the city to find a better way to address the shame of having hundreds of people with no more shelter than a tent or tarp,” said ECOHH chair Nadine Chalifoux.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hello DJC and fellow commenters,
    The documentary Push deals with the financialization of housing in Canada and the UK as a significant factor in the unaffordability of housing. It follows Leilani Farha when she was the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing in Canada, as she unearths facts surrounding this financialization and its effect of driving people out of housing because they can no longer afford it. The documentary shows examples of the rundown condition and, in some cases, unlivable condition of specific rental housing, even though rent is expensive. It covers the Grenfell Tower fire in London where 72 people died after external insulation and cheaper cladding on the Grenfell highrise burned. Leilani Farha as signatory to this letter.
    This documentary might have been mentioned previously in comments here, but I am not sure.

  2. At this point, while Mayor Sohi and the council are patting themselves on the back and singing the praises of their own awesomeness, it beginning to look like another homeless camp is about to shoved from its current location. (And onto another) This is the literal version of kicking the can down the road, in action. Of course, it’s the cops who have to do the dirty work (again) and take the blame for the sorry job. (again)

    Of course, it’s not as bad as it is in the UK, where it’s being revealed on a daily basis, via official inquiry, that no one in the CON government ever bothered to tell the truth, and went so far as to cover up whatever was the truth. It seems that UK politicians have reached a point where they are just rotating the occupants of the various chairs in government, replanting in the disgraced morons from the past, hoping against all reasonable assertions, that these idiots will defy reality and smarten up. Fat chance.

    And then there’s Queen Danielle, who appears to be so detached from reality, and the public will, she’s determined to drag everyone with her, so long as she pays their fees and their way. Guess what? Deficits are coming back. Let’s just say that the Dani Deficits will erase any hope of Dani Bucks.

    As for PMJT, I really, really hope he decides to go full-Putin and, in a fit of madness, starts ordering his assorted enemies to be pushed out of open windows. In Russia, open window kills you. Coming to Canada soon? Stay tuned.

    1. If the cops don’t want to be held accountable for their actions they shouldn’t have signed up to be *very well compensated class traitors.

      As for Putin ? What he has to do with a material analysis of this situation I have no idea, you really want to talk assassination re: Russia ? Ukraine assassinated Darya Dugina, who’s only crime was being the daughter of a philosopher. They assassinated a Ukrainian politician this month. Trudeau is a terrible leader and incompetent politician all on his own, he doesn’t need any help from the wildly popular president of Russia. People who say things like that just reveal their own ignorance with a clanging gong.

  3. Welcome to Alberta, now get the hell off my lawn! The cruelty is a conservative feature that attracts voters.

  4. We are perilously close to becoming a police state here in Alberta. If anyone thinks this will stop at police using their powers against the unhoused poor, think again. This will erode trust, however.

    Who is really in charge of Edmonton’s city council: the folks elected by the people of Edmonton, a shadow city council appointed by the premier or the premier herself?

    This abuse of power in rousting the homeless in the depth of winter will have already begun as I write this. Going down the Trump path will only make things worse. Homelessness is a complex problem that requires solutions from all levels of government. Shelter beds are not a long-term solution. All we have now are police, municipal and provincial governments only too willing to abuse their power against the helpless. What about working toward meaningful solutions and investing in long-term housing and supports? Cruelty kills. Who will they come for next?



  5. Shelter line stretching around the corner
    Welcome to the new world order
    Families sleeping in the cars in the southwest
    No home, no job, no peace, no rest

  6. As the camp clear-outs began this morning, before many of us read this article for the first time, its becoming clear that the real decision making power in this city is not council, but rather the unelected bureaucrats that are not accountable to the voting public. If council is really that powerless then why do we even bother voting for these people every 3 years?

  7. “It is interesting to compare the enthusiasm in official circles in Alberta for clearing homeless encampments with an iron fist and the same people’s insistence in 2022 that the border blockades by so-called convoy “freedom” protesters be treated with kid gloves.”

    …well, I guess, in so far’s the context of official hypocrisy is exemplified yet once again while there’s no sign the government intends to heel its more base bigotries in the interest of redirecting its authority toward better political solutions. The Smith regime has the uncanny ability to be unsurprising when it should rather be seen as surprisingly out of touch in the politic sense.

    It is indeed dismal. One can almost hear the puerile, snickering glee of hateful spite around the UCP cabinet TaBulA rasa, secessionists eagerly grasping for their turn on the joystick of sovereign jurisdiction, rules of the road be KC-Madued.

    And, in response to this impressive list of petitioners, we can almost hear the TBA cabinet’s mirthful chortling of, “well, THEY would, wouldn’t they!”

    One wonders what frightened Mayor Sohi so badly that he could muster only a meek announcement that he’d been “advised” of this apparent trespass of provincial jurisdiction upon municipal—and that’s it, tout! Was he already worried by Smith’s threat to convene a council of failed UCP candidates to advise the government of Edmontonian affairs instead of the MLAs, Dippers all, who were actually elected to the Assembly? Or was he shut down with ‘it’s-a-done-deal-so-suck-it-up-buttercup’ before he could protest the UCP/TBA’s abandonment of longstanding constituted protocols? I suppose we should wait for his response to the petitioners before resuming, if needs, our wonderment.

    We should at least be heartened about the terms of the court injunction against turning these homeless citizens out on the frosty mid-winter streets, stripped virtually naked of basic rights and with no place to go. If the courts have even more heart than that, they will heartily decide the UCP may not affect such heartlessness as to endanger the lives of the least fortunate among us —it isn’t called the “dead of winter” for nothing, after all.

    And this is supposed to be the time of year we rehearse the narrative of the Nativity—nota bene: there was no room at the inn. This is a primary element in the court injunction which, we must pray, will go on to form the core of the court’s decision in the upcoming lawsuit to tie availability of shelter to the resort of rousting the already-dispossessed.

    Interesting to compare how the CPC makes hay, ad hominem, ad absurdum, ad nauseam, of Justin Trudeau’s alleged responsibility for the housing-price crisis to the UCP’s treatment of its unhoused . Bet the federal Cons wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot Poilievre. If forced to, they’d throw the hot potato straight to provincial jurisdiction where housing policy largely resides (no pun intended). And I suppose Danielle Smith would throw it right back to JT (whilst the homeless have no potatoes, neither frozen nor hot to play games with).

    …while racking up a lengthening agenda of court challenges to her party’s unconstitutional policies which, unfortunately for Albertans, will start to preoccupy their government with pointless pugilism over its responsibility to govern fairly for all. Hopefully the diversion will last until at least the weather warms up, until it isn’t so cold one could die some starry, cold night ‘neath the Star of Bentham. Tonight in Edmonton the homeless are both sore AND afraid.

  8. Hi everyone, it is nice to know some people seem to care but here we go again.

    So far it’s complaints about financialization of housing, the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the sad state of govt in the UK, Danielle Smith’s financial acumen, and Trump thrown in spiced up with a little Russia-bashing. Abs comes close by suggesting improvements in affordable housing, are we still talking about that? Why can’t we zero in on solutions which work and drive toward those?

    What exactly is “trauma-informed approach to how colonial institutions interact with and support unhoused people?” I have an idea what they mean but why don’t they just say it in comprehensible English?

    Looking at the pile of stuff left behind by the campers I can appreciate one of the problems they talk about – they have stuff they don’t want stolen if they go for a shower, food or even a crap. How about we organize storage for them to keep their stuff while they are in temporary accommodation, they would maintain access to it. I would personally chip in for that here. The caveat is it would be time-limited and when they get themselves organized – with support help – then the storage becomes available for the next guy. This isn’t THE answer, it may not be any help at all, but my point is that we need to chip away at the problems to make progress…

    1. My guy,

      You are describing a shelter space, of which we are short a few thousand. I agree, I think we should build shelter for these people that networks them with housing, employment, health care , counselling in order to bring these people back into our society in a meaningful and empathetic manner.

      Paying cops to stand around and watch city workers throw peoples few belongings in the trash, to move them a block away, isn’t just cruel or inhumane, it’s against their charter rights, it’s a waste of money, it’s being used as a political wedge issue to divide rural and urban communities and it solves NOTHING.

      Being that we live in one of the highest income jurisdictions in the entire world it’s not only shameful, it is absolutely a problem with a solution. Build shelter spaces and keep building them to keep up with the demographic growth in alberta.

      While we are at it, let’s zone in on some of the slumlords in this city, and if they have unsafe/ dangerous/illegal conditions, or are merely abandoned seize those properties and redevelop them into housing units run by the city, who maintains ownership of the property rather than giving it up to a third party NGO who has done very little to address the crisis in a meaningful fashion.

      The housing crisis has well known causes and it has nothing to do with personal failings and everything to do with speculation and financialization of real estate. Rent controls, appropriation, giving folks housing, these are the solutions. Anything else is just a craven attempt to let the folks who created this crisis continue to profit with some liberal hand waving for show.


      One more thing, there is a group of folks I see leaving their trash everywhere, often in unseemly piles that hang around long after they’re gone, and it’s petis bourgeois contractors who think they own the city and thus can park, throw their trash, leave their site insecure and generally do whatever they want.

      Drive through a subdivision That’s still being built or walk past an infill, you’ll
      See what I’m talking about.

      Funny, not a lot of pearl clutching about those folks.

  9. 1. Where the “conservative” rallying cry of “FREEDOM!”, is met with DEAD SILENCE, from its chief architects and loud mouth promoters.

    2. Alberta is a complete embarrassment on so many levels, morally, ethically, ect.

    3. Where, in Alberta: “It’s time for people to start witnessing what happens. How inhumane, how brutal this process is, and it’s all to no purpose,” Gurnett said.”


    4. vs. an alternate reality: “Developer sets up heated tents in Gatineau parking lot to shelter homeless”


    5. The power and structural dynamics of the current economic system simply reinforce and perpetuate its critical self reinforcing (feedback loop) features, i.e.; bondage, discipline (domination), sadism, and masochism.

  10. Personally, I believe that Take Back Alberta is playing a role in this heartless move (no pun intended). In addition, the UCP haven’t properly looked after the downtrodden in Alberta. There is a lack of support for these individuals, but when it comes to their base, they get all kinds of kickbacks. Preston Manning is a good example of this, and there are many others. $253,000, along with a $2 million expense account, to come up with a Covid-19 report that is pathetic at best. Where are these homeless people going to go to, when there is a lack of proper support for them? Take Back Alberta needs a good swift kick in the backside. The UCP needs the same thing to happen to them. They have absolutely no heart.

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