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Edmonton mayor hopeful four-way meeting will lead to constructive homelessness work

Edmonton’s mayor is optimistic about housing and homelessness issues following a meeting with Indigenous, federal and provincial counterparts.

Amarjeet Sohi in early January had called for the meeting during a special city council session in which he declared a “housing and homelessness emergency” following the removal of eight high-risk homeless camps in the city.

“This is the first time that I know that four orders of government have come together at the same table to talk about how we can better coordinate existing funding, where the gaps are, and what more we need to do together to tackle this crisis,” Sohi told media following the meeting with representatives including Grand Chief Cody Thomas of the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations, federal Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser and provincial Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon.

Sohi said Edmonton’s situation is unique — with the city seeing homelessness numbers doubling since 2019 and having the largest unhoused Indigenous population in western Canada — and hopes the meeting will lead to meaningful action.

“The commitment that I saw at this table is something that gives me hope that we’ll be able to continue to work together,” he said.

Fraser told media he’ll be working toward a new “portfolio approach” to affordable housing projects in Alberta.

“This is the first time that I know that four orders of government have come together at the same table to talk about how we can better coordinate existing funding, where the gaps are, and what more we need to do together to tackle this crisis,” he said.

Fraser said Ottawa will work with the Alberta government on a housing deal similar to the B.C. Builds arrangement recently reached with that province.

Sohi said housing solutions are welcome but more also needs to be done to prevent people from becoming homeless.

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