A homeless man stabbed to death while he slept on a park bench in downtown Edmonton was just days away from having a shelter bed and a place to live.

Eric Dexter Janvier, 44, was napping outside the Boyle Street Co-op Saturday afternoon when he was killed.

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A photo of Eric Dexter Janvier displayed at memorial. (CBC)

"Dexter died, in my view, because he was homeless," said executive director Julian Daly.

Janvier was set to be housed Tuesday under the Boyle Streeet Community Services housing program.

Instead a memorial was held for him on the bench he died on outside the drop-in centre. 

"I didn't want him to leave us," said Holly Lindstrom, a friend. "He's a nice man. Everybody loved him."

Lindstrom came across Janvier as he lay dying.

She held his hand as he took his final breaths.

"I just grabbed his hand and started praying, right," she said. "And it was really horrifying."

"This was a place where he felt safe," said Gary Moostoos who works at the co-op. "He may not have had a home, but he was part of the community, and a belonging. He belonged here."

The stabbing was recorded by the centre's surveillance cameras.

Daly watched the recording with police on Saturday.

"A young man walked across the car park which is opposite Boyle Street, walked across the road," he said. "Dexter was asleep on the bench. He stabs him and just walks off. Just like that - senseless, random. awful."

Police arrested a 21-year-old suspect after he returned to the crime scene as officers investigated.

The drop-in center was closed Saturday as it is every weekend during the summer. Daly believes if he had the funding to stay open every day, Janvier would be alive.

"If we had the money to open our drop-in on the weekend, I'd do it this weekend," he said.

"Resources need to be put in place for weekends for places for our community to go to," said Moostoos.