Manitoba

City cancels plans to hire contractor to dismantle Winnipeg homeless camps

The City of Winnipeg is cancelling its plans to dismantle homeless camps amid pressure from several advocates.

Decision comes after meeting with concerned advocacy groups

A homeless camp sprang up on the lawn of West Broadway's All Saints Church last year. The city issued a request for proposals in May seeking a contractor to remove what it referred to as 'bulky waste' that makes up 'temporary homeless shelters.' (Lyza Sale/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg is cancelling its plans to dismantle homeless camps amid pressure from several advocates.

In May, the city released a request for proposals on its website, looking for a contractor to help discard "bulky waste" that makes up "temporary homeless shelters," collect and dispose of biohazardous items from parks and other public areas, and collect used needles. 

The city had said the request for proposals was in response to an increase in calls to 311 about needles and sharps. 

A spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that the city has withdrawn the request following a meeting with several groups who work with vulnerable people.

They had expressed concerns that the plan was short-sighted and could be harmful to people who are already displaced and facing multiple challenges. 

Sharon Johnson was one of a number of social justice advocates who met with police, public works officials and Mayor Brian Bowman on Tuesday.

She said it was fantastic meeting and the advocates felt city representatives really listened to their concerns.

"They wanted to make sure that all Winnipeggers felt like they were being served, and that they wanted to go forward with a more humane approach," she said. 

Johnson said they are now working on a plan with social agencies to deal with some of the garbage issues around the encampments while being sensitive to the needs of the city's homeless.

With files from Laura Glowacki and Meaghan Ketcheson