Edmonton homeless camp asks for heated trailers as drug overdose reversal medication freezes

The warmer weather from the summer months made it a lot easier for people to stay at Edmonton’s Camp Pekiwewin. But now that temperatures have dropped, organizers are facing new challenges when it comes to drug overdoses at the camp in Rossdale.

“The number that they have come up with to sort track the amount of reversed overdoses that there have been on the site is about 70,” Shima Robinson, Camp Pekiwewin media liaison, said.

Read more: No end date set for Rossdale homeless encampment as Edmonton moves forward with convention centre housing plans

Robinson said drug use and overdoses has been an issue at the camp since it began, and now the Naloxone medication used to reverse a drug overdose is freezing.

“‘What we need on site is a storage space to keep the naloxone supply that is coming [in] warm during the day and night because if not, the actual antidote — the Naloxone for overdoses — will not be an effective tool anymore,” Robinson said.

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Click to play video 'Rossdale residents speak out amid increase in crime, social disorder' Rossdale residents speak out amid increase in crime, social disorder

Rossdale residents speak out amid increase in crime, social disorder

Robinson said they have asked the City of Edmonton for heated trailers. The city says that request is being reviewed, but it comes at a time when other plans are already in the works.

Earlier this month, the city announced the Edmonton Convention Centre on Jasper Avenue near 97 Street — formerly known as the Shaw Conference Centre — will be used as a temporary 24/7 accommodation site during the winter months.

“The convention centre will be up and running later next week, along with the first of the hotels were bringing online to do bridge housing for people,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

Read more: City of Edmonton announces new measures to address rise in COVID-19 cases

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The Mayor added that there is already one hotel also in operation.

“A couple dozen people have been housed out of Camp Pekiwewin already, so we’re actually actively housing people already,” Iveson said.

The convention centre shelter will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and be able to house up to 300 people overnight and up to 400 people during the day.

Camp Pekiwewin in Edmonton’s Rossdale neighbourhood on October 23, 2020.
Camp Pekiwewin in Edmonton’s Rossdale neighbourhood on October 23, 2020. Chris Chacon, Global News

The city says more options will be available to transition people out of the cold.

There will be expanded capacity at the Mustard Seed and Hope Mission, along with overnight accommodations at the Commonwealth Recreation Centre.

Click to play video 'An insiders view of the Camp Pekiwewin Rossdale homeless encampment' An insiders view of the Camp Pekiwewin Rossdale homeless encampment

An insiders view of the Camp Pekiwewin Rossdale homeless encampment

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