Homeless camps must go: mayor

Town looking for solutions

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

There have been people ‘camping’ off and on in piece of forested land next to the Main St. and Hwy. 2 intersection in Slave Lake for many years. It has mostly been ignored, but lately it seems more obvious and more unsightly. People have been complaining about it, and last week mayor Tyler Warman said the town is going to do something about it.

Exactly what, how and when he did not say.

The matter is complicated, to say the least. You can move people on, but where do they go?

Warman acknowledged the dilemma – or rather series of dilemmas – in a video posted on social media on the afternoon of May 4. For starters, he said, it’s private land; the town can’t just go in and do what it wants, without permission.

Then there’s the fact the people camping there are facing difficult life situations that have to be taken into account. Warman said for sure some cleanup of the large amounts of junk in and around the site will happen. Expect to see dumpsters on site soon, he said.

“It’s going to take a variety of resources and a lot of hands,” to come up with something that works, Warman said.

Warman said to expect to see greater presence of RCMP and town bylaw officers at the sites.

He said the town would be working with those agencies as well as the Slave Lake Homeless Coalition. As well, “we’ve been reaching out to the province,” for advice and help.

“It is not going to go away overnight,” Warman said, “but we recognize it can’t stay.”

The Leader spoke to one of the camp residents last week. He was quite aware of the sentiment in the community and said he is trying to help by cleaning up garbage. He and his partner both work, he said, but can’t afford to rent a place in town. And if the camp is shut down.

“Move further into the bush I guess,” he said.

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