The Edmonton Transit Service continues to face safety problems, despite a provincial task force being formed in early December 2022 to try and curb the issues — especially around addiction, homelessness and crime.
Police said on Sunday, Jan. 22, at around 10:45 p.m., a man acting in an erratic manner entered a bus parked at the Northgate Transit Centre near 97 Street and 137 Avenue, causing significant damage inside.
Police said he then got off the bus with an ice pick that he found on it and threatened a woman who was standing outside.
Police said officers quickly located the 20-year-old suspect and charged him with a number of offences, including mischief over $5,000.
Edmonton police said he appeared to be intoxicated, but officers did not know what kind of substance the suspect was on.
The bus operator had left the vehicle prior to the incident to use the washroom and was not directly involved, but is being offered support by the city.
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The Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force was formed last month to try and deal with the complex and often-intertwined issues of addiction, homelessness and crime in Edmonton.
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It’s comprised of 12 people and chaired by former Calgary police officer and current Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis.
The goal is to address social issues through a coordinated response between the province, city and local partners such as Homeward Trust, which provides broad supports for Edmonton’s homeless community.
The provinces said the task force will be responsible for implementing several initiatives as part of a $187-million commitment announced in October 2022 to address addiction and homelessness in Alberta’s urban centres.
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Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the City of Edmonton has done its part to try and tackle these issues but its still waiting on the province to step up and take care of its responsibilities.
The province is responsible for funding shelter spaces in the province, and it’s that level of government’s duty to provide the health and social services often needed to address homelessness and addictions.
“We don’t need more studies, we need action,” Sohi said.
“They haven’t really stepped up to provide necessary supports to struggling Edmontonians and the impact is more disorder, more vandalism.”
On Monday, Ellis said action is coming but first the task force wanted to speak with people in the community first.
“Action is going to be taken, we just had to hear from all of the stakeholders first,’ Ellis said.
“I was very clear at the beginning when this task force was to be created, that it was not about a report that was going to be created — it was about gathering all the people that are decision makers within the community.”
Sohi said the city has been providing the province with proposals and solutions — to no avail.
“We have been proposing solutions ever since May,” Sohi said.
“And I welcome provinces intervention in this because these are provincial responsibilities.”
The province said it’s making an announcement Wednesday, Feb. 1, specifically on taking action around these issues, but did elaborate on the details.
— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News
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