Regina's Camp Marjorie growing as organizers scheduled to meet with city officials

Camp Marjorie has grown to more than 40 tents and 60 people since it started 11 days ago, and on Tuesday afternoon organizers were scheduled to meet with City of Regina officials to discuss next steps.

The camp started with one tent and has grown continuously as more people who are facing homelessness come to seek shelter.

“In the past couple of days, the growth has really amazed me,” Alysia Johnson, a volunteer organizer with Camp Marjorie, said. “We knew that there was a really high need, but I think we’ve been overwhelmed with just how high it is.”

The Ministry of Social Services confirmed it has helped 55 people from the camp in the past week by connecting them with services like the Saskatchewan Income Support and the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability programs.

“The ministry may provide a stay in a hotel room to individuals needing emergency shelter whether they are currently on income assistance benefits or not,” Chad Ryan, the acting executive director of Income Assistance Service Delivery, said in a statement. “Some individuals have accepted support to be relocated temporarily to hotel and/or shelters.”

The ministry said 13 applications for social housing have also been completed.

Still, the camp continues to see growth which is increasing the demand for donations.

Johnson said non-perishable snacks, warm food, drinks, socks and undergarments are some of the items most needed at the camp.

Community based organizations offering support for people facing pregnancy, addictions and victims services have also begun offering their help to people at the camp, which Johnson said is greatly appreciated.

“The tricky element here is that we don’t really have the formality of a check-in, check-out process,” she explained. “Because our goal is to provide the necessities of survival, it is really hard to track people because they’re welcome to come and go as they please.”

She said because of this, any community groups looking to provide their services are encouraged to visit the camp.

“The easiest route is to come to camp and have a chat with people and see who’s there,” she said.

Organizers confirmed they are scheduled to have a meeting with city officials late on Tuesday afternoon to discuss next steps for the camp.

“My hope [for the meeting] is just an honest discussion,” Johnson said. “We’re not expecting the world here, we just want the problem to be seen, understood, we want to be heard and frankly we just want to get to solutions. That’s really the whole point.”

In an emailed statement, the City of Regina said its priority is ensuring the safety of everyone at the camp.

“Discussions are continuing and city officials will be available later in the week to respond to questions,” the statement reads.