Edmonton’s fire chief is defending a decision to send crews to rescue a homeless person who was camping out illegally at in the river valley on Thursday morning.
Two fire trucks and five rescue personnel responded to a call at Henrietta Muir Edwards Park around 7:30 a.m. MT Thursday about a woman who had somehow cut herself and needed help.
"We provide a public service and there’s no means test for our service," fire Chief Ken Block said.
"We don’t judge people … if people are in need of help, that’s what we do. It’s what we’re here for and we’re more than happy to provide that."
The fact that the woman and her partner were living illegally in the park prompted some people to question the bigger issue of homelessness around the city and the costs to taxpayers when problems happen at illegal camps.
Coun. Kerry Diotte said the costs going towards the rescue might have been better used to fund homeless housing.
"I don’t think anybody would prefer to live on the street," Diotte said.
"It’s a sad situation … I know the rangers report it when they’re there. They try to break up camps, get people to a better place, but it’s a challenge."
Diotte said despite the laws, implementing stiffer fines and bylaws likely won’t solve the homelessness problem, but city council will keep trying to find solutions.