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City’s Mobile Outreach Program reports uptick in encampments in 2021

The head of the Grande Prairie Mobile Outreach Program (MOP) believes the extended service offered to those in the street-engaged population is making a difference, despite an influx of encampments being reported over the first three months of 2021.

Program Manager Chelsea Frizzell says in the first three months of 2021, the program was dispatched to 1,600 calls for service. There were also 28 encampments responded to and dismantled, with eight people present between January and March.

Frizzell told members of the Protective and Social Services Committee on Tuesday that with warmer weather now here, residents may have noticed an increase in encampments around the city. However, she believes they’re working diligently to not only remove the camps but get the services to those who need them.

“We work closely with Enforcement Services, and with a heavy presence around the Rotary House footprint, we are providing consistent messaging that encampments are not tolerated in Grande Prairie,” she says.

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The streamlined system, according to Frizzell, starts with a report of a camp, if the encampment is active they connect individuals with appropriate resources, and cleanup of the camp begins. However, if safety is at risk, or the size of the camp is simply too large, those with the program will help coordinate the cleanup with both enforcement, and if needed, parks.

She adds the program will expand slightly going forward, with a focus on recent funding going towards creating an even more expedited response.

“We were also awarded a grant which will be used toward a vehicle in our fleet… so responding for calls to services, assisting with client appointments, and transportation to their home communities,” she adds.

The Mobile Outreach Program Pilot launched in the fall of 2020 and will cost the City of Grande Prairie approximately $200,000.

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