Shantytown balloons to size of village
Marc Bence/for metro edmonton
Edmonton’s tent city near the Bissell Centre could be forming its very own government complete with a president and judge in “order to make its own rules and to better work with law enforcement officials,” says homeless advocate Pedro Shultz.
On the heels of police reports of gangs and “tent brothels” sprouting up in the makeshift community, Shultz says a form of self-leadership is being looked at to improve the situation.
The area is now home to about 65 people, and Shultz says at least three people or more usually live inside each tent.
“We are now the same population size as a village and those who live here have nowhere else to turn, but to remain here,” said Shultz, who’s also a street pastor.
“It’s a crisis situation when you have thousands of homeless people in Edmonton.”
Shultz told Metro an executive committee consisting of “a president, a vice-president, a secretary treasurer, a judge and a peace officer” was formed at another tent city in Dawson Park that was later taken down by police.
“This was done so we could operate like a village in order to offset those problems that are seen now at the original tent city,” said Shultz.
“If you don’t have some kind of system of democracy, or leadership, there is going to be problems,” said Shultz.
A police investigator in charge of investigations at the tent city could not be reached for comment, but Insp. Brian Nolan told reporters “problems will occur when there are that many people in one spot.”
“We realize in short order that when you see that many people in one spot, you are going to see those types of people that tend to exploit others living at the tent city,” told Nolan.
Anarchy in the tent city