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Edmonton: Dead man found in tent before homeless camp dismantled

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Dismantling 'an encampment of homeless people in downtown Edmonton, in December 2023.

The Canadian Press

A man was discovered dead in a homeless encampment north of downtown Edmonton, prompting city officials to briefly suspend plans to dismantle the camp.

Police said emergency medical services were conducting health checks on residents following the explosion from a propane tank early Sunday, when the man's body was found in a tent.

The City says in a press release that the discovery of the body and the explosion are unrelated, and a spokesperson for the City, Janice Schroeder, indicated that' ;#x27;no injuries were reported in connection with the explosion.

Police say the death does not appear to be criminal.

Dismantling of the camp continued later Sunday and the City said 15 people were evacuated from the site and 10 propane tanks were removed.

Ms. Schroeder said two people suffered burns and were taken to hospital after a fire at another prison camp -shelter in the same neighborhood on Sunday, and she noted that the fires and explosions highlight the dangers of the camps as temperatures drop.

The colder it is, the more problematic on-site fires are, she said.

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The camp that was emptied Sunday was the seventh the city has dismantled in recent weeks in accordance with a temporary order from the court, which was granted after the city and a human rights group reached an agreement for eight camps deemed a risk to public safety.

The interim order will last until January 11, when the court will hear an earlier request for an injunction from the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights (CJHR), which sued the City for its policy of dismantling homeless camps.

The coalition said in a Facebook post Friday that the closures camps violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as fundamental human rights.

In recent weeks, we We supported community members during the displacements and saw for ourselves how deeply colonial and traumatic this policy is. People pack up and move in a block away. This is not a solution, denounces the group in its message.

The City noted that with Edmonton's continued dry conditions, the risk of injury and death from fires in homeless camps remains extremely high.

It was -16 degrees Celsius in Edmonton on Sunday, and the forecast called for nighttime lows below -20 degrees for the coming week.

In 2023, Edmonton Fire Services responded to 135 encampment fires, making 22 injured and three deaths.

The City maintains that it informs the occupants of the camp as well as the organizations social before the closures. As part of the camp closure agreement, the City said it is also ensuring there is sufficient accommodation space or other interior spaces for residents.

S'il n&#x27 If there is not enough space, it is indicated that the police will close a camp only if there is a danger to public health and safety, and that the City will take the cold into account in its decision-making.

As colder weather sets in and the use of shelters increases, the City will review its plans to ensure that sufficient accommodation capacity exists before proceeding with the planned final closure, the City indicated in a press release on Sunday.< /p>

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116