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City responded to 83 rough sleeping camps around Red Deer this summer… Here’s what to do if you see one.

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From the City of Red Deer

Rough sleeping encampment update

With an increasing number of rough sleeper camps being reported over the last month, the City of Red Deer is focusing heavily on cleanup efforts across the city.  However, citizens are encouraged to continue reporting rough sleeper camps to the City of Red Deer.

Over the summer, a collaborative cleanup and outreach team worked to respond to 83 camps, which resulted in connecting with 153 individuals about housing and 70 referrals to non-housing related social services.  This collaborative approach was part of a pilot project for an enhanced collaborative response.  The pilot ran from June to August 2018.

“Community safety for all citizens is what matters most when it comes to ensuring our parks, trails and community spaces are safe, clean and accessible for all,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “It is the result of joint efforts on the part of citizens, community partners and local agencies alike that we were able to connect with and have 153 individual conversations as part of the collaborative camp clean-up process.”

All camps need to be reported to the non-emergency RCMP/Bylaw complaint line at 403-343-5575.  When reporting a rough sleeper camp, you may be asked for personal information such as your name and phone number so Community Peace Officers (CPOs) can follow up on your complaint and ensure they know where the camp is located.

When a camp is reported, CPOs go to the reported site and, when their investigation is complete, they issue a 24 hour eviction notice.  The CPOs then work with City of Red Deer staff to clean up the area within 14 days, whenever possible.

The process to respond to rough sleeper camps is as follows:

  1. Citizens contact the RCMP/ Bylaw complaint line to report the camp.
  2. A Municipal Enforcement Officer is dispatched to the reported camp site, which is often vacant.
  3. Once this work is complete, the issuing officer posts a 24-hour eviction notice, which contains social support services contact information.
  4. Municipal Enforcement then communicates with City of Red Deer staff, who are scheduled to complete weekly camp cleanups.

This approach and process is aimed at preventing the displacement and reoccupation of rough sleepers within the park system by attempting to house people.

“We will continue to balance the needs of all citizens as City staff and community partners respond to calls for rough sleeper camp clean-up including, but not limited to, needle debris and the need for housing and treatmentsupports,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We strongly encourage citizens to report through the formal complaint line toensure a timely response.”

The collaborative approach to address rough sleeper camps in Red Deer’s parks and other green spaces resultedin the removal of 16 tonnes of debris and 1,005 needles between June 1 and August 30, 2018.  City staff spent approximately 1,343 hours cleaning up camps, with Turning Point and the Safe Harbour society providing outreach support to individuals living at 35 of the 83 camps cleaned up over the summer months.

For more information about rough sleeper camps, visit www.reddeer.ca.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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International

Biden says Putin will pay ‘dear price’ if he invades Ukraine

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said he believes Vladimir Putin doesn’t want full blown war in Ukraine and would pay a “dear price” if he moves forward with a military incursion.

Biden, speaking at a news conference to mark his one-year anniversary in office, also said he believes that Russia is preparing to take action on Ukraine, though he doesn’t think the Russian president has made a final decision. He suggested that he would limit Russia’s access to the international banking system if it did further invade Ukraine.

“I’m not so sure that he is certain what is he going to do,” Biden said. He added, “My guess is he will move in.”

Biden’s comments came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Kyiv accused Russia of planning to reinforce the more than 100,000 troops it has deployed along the Ukrainian border and suggested that number could double “on relatively short order.” Blinken did not elaborate, but Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to its ally Belarus, which also shares a border with Ukraine, for major war games next month.

The U.S. president said he believes the decision will “solely” be Putin’s and suggested he was not fully confident that Russian officials with whom top White House advisers have been negotiating are fully informed about Putin’s thinking.

“There’s a question of whether the people they’re talking to know what he’s going to do,” Biden said.

Biden also suggested a “minor incursion” would elicit a lesser response than a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, saying “it’s very important that we keep everyone in NATO on the same page.” Biden later in the news conference sought to clarify that he was referring to a non-military action, such as a cyberattack, that would be met with a similar reciprocal response.

Ukraine, meanwhile, said it was prepared for the worst and would survive whatever difficulties come its way. The president urged the country not to panic.

Blinken’s visit to the Ukrainian capital came two days before he is to meet in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. That follows a series of inconclusive talks last week that failed to ease rising tensions.

Russian military activity has been increasing in recent weeks, but the U.S. has not concluded whether Putin plans to invade or whether the show of force is intended to squeeze the security concessions without an actual conflict.

Biden, who spoke with Putin twice last month, said he’s made it clear to him that Russia would face severe sanctions. Still, he said the decision for Putin could come down to “what side of the bed” he wakes up on.

“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves, No. 1,” Biden warned. “This is not all just a cake walk for Russia,” Biden said. “They’ll pay a stiff price immediately” and in the medium and long term “if they do it.”

In Kyiv, Blinken reiterated Washington’s demands for Russia to de-escalate the situation by removing its forces from the border area, something that Moscow has flatly refused to do. And, Blinken said he wouldn’t give Russia the written response it expects to its demands when he and Lavrov meet in Geneva.

Meanwhile, a top Russian diplomat said Moscow would not back down from its insistence that the U.S. formally ban Ukraine from ever joining NATO and reduce its and the alliance’s military presence in Eastern Europe. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow had no intention of invading Ukraine but that its demands for security guarantees were non-negotiable.

The U.S. and its allies have said the Russian demands are non-starters, that Russia knows they are and that Putin is using them in part to create a pretext for invading Ukraine, which has strong ethnic and historical ties to Russia. The former Soviet republic aspires to join the alliance, though has little hope of doing so in the foreseeable future.

Blinken urged Western nations to remain united in the face of Russian aggression. He also reassured Ukraine’s leader of NATO support while calling for Ukrainians to stand strong.

Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the U.S. and its allies were steadfast in backing his country and its democratic aspirations against Russian attempts to incite division and discord through “relentless aggression.”

“Our strength depends on preserving our unity and that includes unity within Ukraine,” he told Zelenskyy. “I think one of Moscow’s long-standing goals has been to try to sow divisions between and within our countries, and quite simply we cannot and will not let them do that.”

The Biden administration had said earlier it was providing an additional $200 million in defensive military aid to Ukraine. Blinken said more assistance is coming and that it would only increase should Russia invade.

Zelenskyy thanked Blinken for the aid, which was approved in late December but not confirmed until Wednesday.

“This (military) support not only speaks to our strategic plans of Ukraine joining the alliance, but more importantly to the level of our military, our military supplies,” he said, referring to Kyiv’s desire to join NATO.

“Your visit is very important,” Zelenskyy said. “It underlines once again your powerful support of our independence and sovereignty.”

Zelenskyy released a video address to the nation on Wednesday evening, urging Ukrainians not to panic over fears of a possible invasion. But he said the country has been living with the Russian threat for many years and should always be prepared for war. He called on all Ukrainians, especially the elderly, to “breathe” and “calm down.”

Ukraine’s president also gave assurances that the country was strengthening its defense capabilities and doing everything possible to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.

“Ukraine doesn’t want a war, but must always be prepared for it,” Zelenskyy said.

From Kyiv, Blinken plans a short trip to Berlin for talks with German and other European allies on Thursday before meeting with Lavrov.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the European Union to draw up a plan to ease tensions with Russia, “We should build it among Europeans, then share it with our allies in the framework of NATO, and then propose it for negotiation to Russia,” he said.

Washington and its allies have kept the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures to reduce the potential for hostilities.

Ryabkov insisted, however, that there can’t be any meaningful talks on those issues if the West doesn’t heed the main Russian requests for the non-expansion of NATO with a formal response. He said the Russian demands are “a package, and we’re not prepared to divide it into different parts, to start processing some of those at the expense of standing idle on others.”

Blinken, though, said no such formal response was coming. “I won’t be presenting a paper at that time to Foreign Minister Lavrov,” he said. “We need to see where we are and see if there remain opportunities to pursue the diplomacy and pursue the dialogue.”

The Biden administration and its allies have accused Putin of creating the crisis and say it is up to him and the Russians to decide whether to invade and suffer severe economic consequences.

Russia has brushed off calls to withdraw its troops by saying it has a right to deploy its forces wherever it likes on its own territory. It also has rejected U.S. allegations that it’s preparing a “false flag operation” to use as a pretext for intervention. Russia has angrily denied the charge.

Before Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, a delegation of U.S. senators traveled to Ukraine to emphasize congressional support for the country.

Russia in 2014 seized the Crimean Peninsula after the ouster of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly leader and also threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting between the Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland, called Donbas.

___

Lee reported from Kyiv. Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv contributed to this report.

Matthew Lee And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press

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Justice

CP NewsAlert: Four people including baby found dead in Manitoba near U.S. border

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WINNIPEG — Mounties in Manitoba say they have found the bodies of four people — including an infant and a teen — near the United States border.

They say the four died from exposure during a blizzard and freezing temperatures.

RCMP say American authorities first notified them about a group that had crossed into the U.S. from near Emerson, Man., and they had items with them for an infant but no baby.

Mounties went searching yesterday and located the body of a man, woman and infant.

They also found a teen’s body nearby.

RCMP are telling people not to attempt to cross the border in either direction because it can be deadly.

More coming …

The Canadian Press

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