Callous government policies lead to freezing death of homeless man in Edmonton, Alberta
21 February 2019
A passerby discovered the frozen body of a homeless man in a park next to an Edmonton subway station February 3. It was one of the coldest nights of the year, with temperatures falling to -37 C.
Apart from the statement that the body was that of a man, and that the police believed that his death was “cold related,” there was nothing else said about this person. We do not know if he was young or old, whether or not he had a family, or anything else about his life.
Underscoring the authorities’ indifference to the man’s fate, none of the officials interviewed following the death, including Edmonton’s mayor, described it as a tragedy or expressed any remorse. Yet the death was entirely avoidable. It was the result of a callous policy adopted by the city to shut subway stations at night to prevent homeless people from sheltering inside.
In the past, Edmonton opened its subway stations after hours during extreme cold conditions so homeless people could shelter inside. However, city officials decided only to keep the subway stations open if the vacancy rate in the city’s privately-run hostels dropped below 10 percent. To justify this policy, officials complained that they had spent too much money cleaning up the garbage left behind by homeless people seeking shelter and were having to hire security guards to make sure that no violence broke out.
Officials also absurdly advised homeless people that if they could not make it to a shelter independently, they could call the police, who would transport them to one.
Many homeless people prefer to avoid homeless shelters because they want to stay with a partner, spouse, or pet, or they just want their…