Calgary, AB,

Encampment removed following complaints of violence and refuse

While we lead with compassion and connection to resources, public safety remains our priority. Violence will not be tolerated and complete disregard for the wellbeing of our public lands is not acceptable behaviour in our community. We would like to thank all of our city and social-sector partners for their assistance.

District 6 Community Resource Officer Sergeant Trent Barker Peterson

An encampment has been removed in the Starfield Industrial Area following several reports throughout the end of 2023 involving violence and weapons at the location. During removal of the encampment, several individuals were arrested for outstanding warrants on serious criminal violations and all individuals found at the encampment were offered access to social supports.

The investigation into the encampment began in late 2023 after police received calls from the public about people being threatened with hammers, axes and guns. When officers arrived, no suspects or victims were located. In January 2024, officers returned to the area for a more detailed look and discovered a substantial amount of refuse. It also appeared the occupants were dumping waste into the Forest Lawn Creek. The camp included a structure made of plywood with a plastic roof and a bridge over the creek that led to a hole that had been cut in a chain-link fence where a much larger camp was found. Sports equipment, stripped electric scooters, clothing, bedding and furniture were all found within.

Four individuals were located within the encampment. Calgary Police Service Community Resource Officers, Calgary Community Standards Encampment Team and the Alpha House Encampment Team worked with the individuals to offer supports and sheltering options. In January, they were given 30-days notice to pack up belongings, clean up their area and vacate the encampment. A week before the scheduled clean-up date, CPS officers returned to remind the individuals about the upcoming clean-up and their options for support. No efforts had been made by the occupants to clean up and they indicated they had no intent to vacate the area.

Between Wednesday, Feb. 21, and Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, 200 cubic yards of refuse was removed using heavy equipment and six construction dumpsters. The clean-up costs are estimated to increase beyond $16,000 when crews return in the spring to remove the remainder of the garbage once the ground thaws.

Multiple outstanding warrants were executed on the individuals that were arrested, including:

·        Five counts of fail to appear

·        One count of arson

·        One count of fail to register with a sex offender registry

·        One count of driving while unauthorized

Four people were each charged with one count of causing damage to public land, causing accumulation of debris on public land and occupy public land without authorization under the Alberta Public Lands Act.

All of the arrested individuals were provided support and access to social services through the Alpha House Encampment Team and the District Police And Crisis Team (DPACT) partnership with Alberta Health Services clinicians. One of the individuals has been referred to Action Table Calgary.