The Tuesday dismantling of yet another tent encampment by police and fire personnel have left officials questioning the available options for Regina’s most vulnerable. Ward 6 Councillor, Dan Leblanc openly expressed his concerns and uncertainty over a possible plan of action.
The current state of affairs come a month after the removal of a large tent encampment situated at City Hall. Subsequent refuges have sprung up only to follow suit in the same disappointing trajectory. A female resident of the prior City Hall camp lamented, “They continue to kick us out.” She doesn’t mention defeat but instead reveals a grim persistence, “We just keep finding other places to live.”
While some former encampment residents have found a roof over their heads, many still roam the city’s streets. Another woman plaintively asked, “How many times do we have to fall and get back up?” Expressing the cumulative exhaustion, she added, “Everybody’s sick and tired. You only have so many options.”
According to The Ministry of Social Services, Regina presently provides 146 emergency shelter spaces. Additionally, the city has recently expanded a shelter operated by Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services at NEST. Mayor Sandra Masters revealed on Tuesday, “We have an additional 15 units there.” The mayor also mentioned that available space at other shelters is subject to their respective regulations.
An encampment near Carmichael Outreach in Regina sees wafts of smoke encapsulating the now dismantled site. A combined investment of $3 million by federal and provincial governments has flowed into the establishment of a new permanent shelter within the city. Yet, an update on the eagerly awaited building remains unprovided.
As winter approaches, several councilors are fervently advocating for a more immediate action plan. Councillor Leblanc expressed his concern, commenting that “It’s almost as if we’re suddenly surprised when it’s winter and folks that are houseless in the summer remain outside.” Councilors Shannon Zachidniak, Andrew Stevens, and Cheryl Stadnichuk joined him in presenting a motion to propose discussions on housing solutions.
Leblanc emphasized the urgency, “If we want humane solutions which have a reasonable likelihood of addressing the issue in a systemic way, we need to have the conversation now.” His comments signal the dire state faced by Regina’s vulnerable population, and validates the call for immediate and sustainable support.