Sohi to bring security plan to Chinatown, call to Shandro meeting for help

“From day one, we are calling for interventions. And I am happy that (the province) is now going to listen to us. I look forward to the conversation we will have with them.”

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Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says he will bring a list of the city’s public safety efforts downtown and a plea for more help in his meeting with Attorney General Tyler Shandro.

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The mayor will meet with the minister on Tuesday afternoon, just days after Shandro invoked Alberta’s police law and demanded a “public safety plan” from the Edmonton City Council to stem what he called a “wave of violent crime.” tackle the city center.

Sohi told reporters Monday that he will be meeting with the Secretary of State for Community and Social Services, Jason Luan, and Secretary of State for Mental Health and Addictions, Mike Ellis, alongside Shandro.

“We are desperate for help. Our community is desperate for help,” Sohi said.

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“From day one, we are calling for interventions. And I’m glad that (the provincial government) is now listening to us. I look forward to the conversation we will have with them.”

The city council spoke last week about plans and policies already approved to help support core communities — most notably Chinatown, where two men in their 60s, Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang, were murdered earlier this month. A man is suspected of second-degree murder in connection with both deaths.

The Edmonton Police Department has also recently moved officers from other parts of the city to the core for more frequent, visible patrols.

Sohi said both short and long-term work is underway to help Chinatown, from $300,000 in grants to help businesses fund private security to a five-year plan to work to decentralize social services and shelters currently clustered in Chinatown. .

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The city also plans to advocate for the county to ensure that people are not discharged from the hospital and have nowhere to go, or released from provincial prisons without a place to live, which could lead to their housing. Municipal leaders plan to put the federal government on the same page, but with penal institutions under their jurisdiction.

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Hon Leong, the president of the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society, said he is encouraged to see steps toward progress after years of being unheard of.

“This gives us a lot of hope. We are talking about many levels of government now turning their attention to this problem that has been around for a while,” he said.

“And now we hope that the community and the general public will show up and support some of this neglect — to not just look at Chinatown, but to realize that there are communities in Edmonton, period, that need attention and that need to be maintained to make communities safer.”

The mayor noted that he had attended two meetings with members of the Chinatown community in recent days.

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“I have heard that this tragedy has made us all realize that the people of Chinatown have been living for decades, in many cases losing business, losing customers and losing hope. Many people in the community have lost hope that things will change,” he said.

“And I promise you that the things we can do as a church, we will do those things.”

But the mayor said there are tough issues to grapple with, especially the way trauma is at the root of addictions and poverty that keeps people on the streets.

“I go for a walk in Chinatown once or twice a week. I see the pain, I see the suffering of those who are homeless, those who face mental health problems. I also see the impact on the community, on businesses,” he said.

“It is a human crisis that we are dealing with. And it is not caused by one person, one organization, one government. This is a collective harm that we as a society have done to indigenous peoples and others, that they end up in those conditions.”

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