The City of Winnipeg has a new job opening and it could mean days are numbered for temporary homeless shelters in public spaces.
It’s looking to hire a contractor to conduct biohazardous waste collection and disposal. That includes items such as needles, condoms, and human feces.
The contractor will also collect and dispose bulky waste such as shopping carts, mattresses and blankets from temporary homeless shelters on public spaces.
“It’s going to be a big job, if they do it right,” said Rev. Brent Neumann, All Saints Anglican Church.
Last year, a homeless tent city sprang up on the lawn of the church. The people staying there were later evicted, and a huge mess was left behind.
“We filled two 20 cubic meter bins with garbage,” remembered Neumann. “So there was 40 cubic meters of garbage on our small property. It was quite astounding how much was there.”
Getting rid of the garbage was difficult. And Neumann says helping the homeless people, who all had different needs, was even harder.
That’s why Bear Clan leader James Favel doesn’t believe you can just remove homeless encampments.
“If they’re just going to take away their things, and push them away, it’s going to be playing whack-a-mole,” said Favel. “They’re going to be homeless somewhere else.”
Favel believes the root causes of homelessness must also be addressed.
The plan is also raising concerns from the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. It wonders how the planned removal of temporary homeless shelters will respect the legal rights of the people living in them.
“Judges have said this is a charter issue,” said Josh Brandon. “If there isn’t somewhere safe for people to go, the city and police don’t have a right to just kick people off.”
The city says it works closely with the Winnipeg Police Service on these matters and all reasonable care is taken to protect the safety and health of people affected by the removal.
As for needle collection and disposal, the city tells CTV News the public works department has been providing the service for many years. It believes the contractor will ensure there’s a consistent resource dedicated to removing them without putting additional strain on city services.