by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Morinville’s Council have received a thorough report from the Town’s Community Program and FCSS Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka on the state of homelessness in Morinville, including steps forward the Town can make with their partners. The report includes definitions of different types of homelessness, and statistics available for Morinville’s numbers in each category.

The report was unanimously well received by Council, particularly by Deputy Mayor Brennan FitzGerald, who originally put forth the motion calling for the report.

“This is a conversation that we needed to have, and need to continue having,” he said, adding that it is important the Town continues to work with community services and their community partners to eliminate homelessness in Town.

Many members of Council were surprised by the statistics presented, with Councillor Rob Ladouceur observing that they were higher than he realized. Dziwenka made it clear that their numbers across the board were not 100 per cent scientific as keeping accurate counts of homeless Morinvillians are difficult when homeless residents, particularly youth and single women, work hard to avoid interacting with any authorities. Despite this caveat, the data was presented as follows:

People who are unsheltered and absolutely homeless and living on the streets or places not intended for human habitation: 2.

People who are Emergency sheltered, including those staying in overnight shelters for those impacted by family violence: None reported as people requiring this assistance are typically transported to Edmonton by the Town or RCMP.

Provisionally accommodated people or those whose accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure. AKA ‘Hot Bedding’ or Couch Surfing: between 10-20 adults and 6-10 youth.

Dziwenka also noted that there is a large number of people in Morinville and province-wide who are at severe risk of homelessness as a result of the current economic situation in the province. Many people have been unemployed for one or more years and have reached the end of their financial resources, potentially becoming homeless any day. Dziwenka reminded Council that anybody could become homeless, and many of us are just one missed paycheck away from it.

With this information, Councillor Barry Turner asked Dziwenka what she felt Council could do, regarding direction or additional resources, to address homelessness in our Town. Dziwenka responded by saying the best way the Town can contribute is by “working with partners who are already doing so much,” such as the Library and Food Bank.

Council unanimously accepted the report for information and may be considering it in future program considerations.

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