Medicine Hat Police cracking down on make-shift campsites in city parks

By Scott Roblin
July 8, 2019 - 1:16pm Updated: July 8, 2019 - 7:55pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB – Camping season has extended to Medicine Hat’s parks lately, with increased reports of people illegally creating their own sites in the city.

Medicine Hat Police are starting to crack down on these temporary, make-shift sites which have been popping up in areas such as the South East Hill and Strathcona Island Park.

Insp. Joe West said these sites are illegal under Medicine Hat’s parks bylaw and there’s a reason for it.

“They’re just not designed for camp spots,” said West. “The camp sites do destroy the vegetation in and around [the sites], we’ve seen that at a couple of the sites where people are erecting tents. There’s no sanitation facilities, there’s no garbage facilities, so what we’re left with is a big mess.”

Many of these sites have been found abandoned by police or parks crews, though some are still occupied.

According to West, they’re finding a lot of people living in these tents are without a permanent home or living space.

“We’re sharing with those folks that there are other supports in the community and where to go to get that support,” he said. “We don’t see any reason for these encampments in natural areas or parks.”

Garbage and litter has been a major problem at these locations, which is often left behind when someone abandons these sites.

West said they’ve joined forces with the City of Medicine Hat to try and tackle this issue, which is becoming noticeable to the public trying to enjoy city parks.

“Especially along the escarpment along the South East Hill we’re seeing a lot of debris, clothing, luggage, you name it,” he said. “It’s a constant clean up process, but we’re partnering with the parks department and are doing our best to keep up.”

Police say they rely on tips from the public to identify these illegal sites, as many are hidden away from the walking paths in town.

Anyone who wants to report these sites are encouraged to contact Medicine Hat Police’s non-emergency line at 403-529-8481 and provide as much detail as possible.

“Sometimes these are pretty difficult to find,” said West. “So, GPS coordinates or just some really solid landmarks [help], so that our bylaw and regular officers can find those encampments quite easily.”

Medicine Hat Police’s new mobile app also includes a feature for reporting tips, something that West said is a good alternative option.

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