The City supports the work of Edmonton’s homeless-serving sector, providing funding to social agencies for street outreach, and activating the extreme weather response to support vulnerable people. The City also responds to encampments on public land with the goal of connecting people with housing support and preventing large encampments. 

Find information on emergency shelters and other housing options. 

Shigella Outbreak Among Vulnerable Communities

In recent months, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has observed an outbreak of Shigella among vulnerable individuals in Edmonton’s downtown. The first case was reported on August 17, 2022. 

The City of Edmonton is working with Alberta Health Services and partner organizations to limit the spread of Shigella. This highly contagious illness spreads when someone comes into contact with Shigella bacteria, typically by ingesting food or drink contaminated with the bacteria, or by exposure to fecal matter of someone infected with Shigella. Access to basic hygiene is the best way to prevent transmission. 

The City of Edmonton has provided additional funding to extend the operation of the temporary mobile washrooms set up in May 2022 at multiple locations to the end of year (December 31, 2022). 

The mobile public washrooms will be open and staffed with attendants daily from 8 am to 8 pm. Outreach teams and washroom attendants will provide individuals using the washrooms with access to hand sanitizer, sanitary wipes, clean clothing and bottled water. 

The City is also providing funding to Boyle Street Community Services to expand day service capacity and programming. The funding enables Boyle Street to expand operations from five to seven days per week, extend operating hours, and provide additional hygiene resources (showers) in response to the Shigella outbreak in the inner city.

There are other public washrooms that can be accessed across the city. Find the nearest location to you by visiting City Wide List of Public Washrooms - Open Data

Encampment Response Team

The Encampment Response Team (ERT) is a partnership between the City of Edmonton, Homeward Trust, Boyle Street Community Services, Bissell Centre, and Edmonton Police Service (EPS). ERT responds to low-risk homeless encampments across the city and coordinates closures and clean-up. Its goal is to support the safety and well-being of people staying in encampments, housing them directly from encampments before enforcement and clean up action is taken.

In 2021, City Peace Officers and EPS are taking the lead in responding more quickly to high risk encampments. Our shared priority is the safety of both people experiencing homelessness and the surrounding community. 

Encampment Response Process 

Citizens are encouraged to call 311 or use the 311 App to report encampments. City park rangers are notified and investigate an encampment(s) within three to five days of the initial 311 report. 

Closure and clean-up timelines are determined by the level of risk to people staying in the encampment as well as the surrounding community. Risks include the size of the encampment, biohazards, needles, garbage, fire, amount of materials present, propane tanks, and proximity to schools or playgrounds. 

If an encampment is low risk, the Encampment Response Team:

  • Works with agency partners to ensure outreach workers can attend the site and directly connect campers to housing and health support.
  • Sets a date for closure and clean-up. Campers are informed of the date in advance so they have time to gather their belongings and relocate to a shelter, bridge housing program, or other location of their choice.
  • This process may take a few days or up to a few weeks, based on the risk and available resources.

If an encampment is high risk, Peace Officers and Edmonton Police Service: 

  • Determine a closure and clean-up date within 1-3 days of investigation. 
  • Provide campers with information on available resources such as shelters, support services and transportation options in advance of enforcement.

See the  Encampment Response Team process at a glance.

Minimum Emergency Shelter Standard

Emergency shelters are funded and regulated by the Government of Alberta, but the City spends significant time and resources responding to the impacts of gaps in the system. Many people experiencing homelessness can’t or won’t access shelters due to shelter conditions, barriers, limited storage space, and other concerns.

In August 2021, City Council approved the adoption of a Minimum Emergency Shelter Standard to supplement existing shelter expectations and to make it easier for people experiencing homelessness to access shelter. The goal is to work cooperatively with the homeless-serving sector to improve standards, reduce barriers, increase uptake of available space, and help more people exit homelessness by rapidly connecting them with housing.