NDP calls for government action as Regina tent community grows

The provincial opposition is calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to make its vacant public housing units available to those experiencing homelessness.

The provincial government owns thousands of public housing units in the province, and according to Sask Housing, roughly 700 in Regina are vacant due to lack of tenants.

“There are hundreds of units available in Regina and in Saskatoon and in other communities in social housing. They’re not being used and those should be opened up as quickly as possible,” NDP leader Ryan Meili said Wednesday.

The call comes as a tent community grows in Pepsi Park. Twenty-four people are currently living there. Social Services is making regular welfare checks and has made temporary accommodations available for a handful of people.

According to a statement from the Government of Saskatchewan, social services has met with about 11 people living in Pepsi Park. As of Tuesday, four individuals have accepted an offer of accommodation and follow-up appointments are being made. The remaining few have declined government assistance.

Donations are pouring in from the community. People are stopping by with donations of food, coffee and warm clothing.

Staying warm is becoming critical as below-freezing temperatures set in. Charcoal burning fire pits are being installed at the tent community under the watchful eye of the fire department.

“They’re staying warm and they’re being as safe as possible. That’s just the role of the fire department to make sure that all our citizens are as safe as can be,” Randy Ryba, fire marshall for Regina Fire and Protective Services said.