The City of Edmonton and a number of local organizations announced actions to protect vulnerable populations.
Edmonton EXPO Centre
The Edmonton EXPO Centre was setup as a safe space for those experiencing homelessness by the City of Edmonton, Community and Social Services, Alberta Health Services, Homeward Trust, and community partners. As of July 31, day drop-in services ended, with those services returning to community agencies.
"The isolation shelter will close in mid-August, and a new location will open where individuals with unstable or no housing who have COVID-19-like symptoms or confirmed COVID-19 can self isolate as required by public health orders," said a City of Edmonton news release.
During its operation, one portion of the facility was used for day drop-in service from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., 7 days a week, for those without access to housing. A separate portion of the Edmonton EXPO Centre was used as a 24/7 isolation shelter. The City shared photos and more information on the activation of the building at Transforming Edmonton.
“This gives us the ability in a controlled and respectful way to ensure that we are supporting our vulnerable community to move to the locations that are appropriate based on the conditions they are in,” said Mayor Don Iveson. He had urged action to protect people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. "If the virus breaks loose in a vulnerable population that will significantly impair our ability to flatten the curve within that population and more broadly," he said at a news conference.
About 675 people were using the EXPO Centre each day since it opened on March 23, according to the City of Edmonton. As of April 1, there were four shower units available in the daily drop-in centre and eight units in the isolation centre. There were six laundry units in each. Since then, the City installed 18 more shower units and additional laundry units too.
Premier Jason Kenney confirmed on March 20 that the Edmonton EXPO Centre will be used as an overflow location for shelters. “AHS (Alberta Health Services) will provide medical support, public health support. And community and social services, as well, will be providing support to these backup homeless locations,” he said. The Province is providing $25 million to help homeless-serving agencies respond to COVID-19.
"In its role as system planner for the homeless-serving sector in Edmonton, Homeward Trust is taking a lead role in supporting a pandemic response plan that coordinates community, health system, and government efforts," reads the COVID-19 page at homewardtrust.ca.
The Mustard Seed has opened a 180-bed overnight shelter in the Kinsmen Sports Centre because the organization's existing shelter located off Whyte Avenue did not allow for appropriate distance between mats. The new space is open daily from 8pm to 7am and is only for those not experiencing symptoms.
On March 23, EndPovertyEdmonton called for "crisis income" (basic income during the pandemic) which it says could "make the difference between recession and depression, something Albertans are all too aware is possible." The income would be "provided to all Canadians, without conditions."
Councillor Andrew Knack has shared a list of local non-profit organizations that are operating and seeking support.
Gyms reopened as of June 12, but a number of different protocols need to be followed.
Alberta succeeded in flattening the curve of infections, and the province wants to reopen its economy.
Be sure to keep your distance, and stay outside or online.