In response to recent media coverage, Lac La Biche County issued the following statement on the homeless camp removal in the hamlet of Lac La Biche.
“The County is developing long-term plans to help our homeless community with our Transitional Housing Task Force. The Task Force is creating a plan to establish and operate a regional transitional housing project with wraparound supports, like addictions and mental health counselling. The County is one part of that solution, because homelessness is a multi-faceted issue that requires diverse voices and supports. That’s why our Task Force involves local representatives from the Lakeland Out of the Elements Shelter, the Canadian Native Friendship Centre, Metis Nation Zone 1, Portage College, the RCMP, Alberta Works, and Alberta Health Services.
Council also put aside $500,000 in the 2021 budget to support that plan when it’s developed. To clarify, the staff time and resources that were used for today’s camp removal, along with resources used to deal with previous issues, were not drawn from this fund. These funds that Council has approved in the 2021 budget will require explicit approval by Council prior to any funds being expended.
We understand the tough position that many in the homeless community are in, and Lac La Biche County wants to keep them safe. We chose to delay removing the camp until now to keep our homeless residents safe. This group has been notified by County Peace Officers four times in the past two weeks that they had to vacate the property.
Lac La Biche County also takes the safety and security of all of residents seriously. When we trace illegal behaviour and multiple complaints back to a camp, as we have in this case, the County must act to protect all residents. We also must take the landowner into consideration: this is private property that residents were trespassing on.
Family & Community Support Services staff and Peace Officers continue to liaise with the Lakeland Out of Elements Shelter. Should they reach capacity or need additional resources, our staff are ready to assist with alternative arrangements for those in need.
We’d like to thank the community for sharing their concerns.”