‘Meth camps’ in Winnipeg a growing issue, says non-profit

Needles, pipes and a knife were discovered at Winnipeg’s Coronation Park on Tuesday, and it’s part of a growing problem that one non-profit agency is describing as “meth camps.”

St. Boniface Street Links said these camps, which differ from homeless camps, serve as a place for people to do meth or process items to be sold for meth money.

“These aren’t camps that would house people who have been living chronically homeless,” said founder of Street Links Marion Willis.

“These are camps that are occupied by young people who are doing meth together.”

Willis began to notice the emergence of these camps last summer, but said this year there’s been a sharp increase.

She notes that people at the camps aren’t just doing meth.

“I call them meth camps because we know the metals that they’re processing, that they’re stealing and they’re processing become currency to buy meth,” she said.

“You’ll find bicycles, parts of bikes. You’ll find roles of wire that have, I don’t know, come from a construction site, perhaps.”

Winnipeg police’s Const. Rob Carver isn’t using the term meth camp, saying “not everyone you see living in a tent, who doesn’t have another option, is using methamphetamine.”

Carver said when people find encampments, police are often the first one called. He explained they try to help those living in the camps find another solution, rather than simply displacing them.

“We’re trying to bring the resources that we have access to, to those people if we’re asking them to move,” he said.

“Trying to give them other options to make sure. We don’t want to show up and just dismantle camps and displace people. That’s no solution either.”

Willis said a number of things need to happen, including getting more outreach workers on the street.

“Making contact with people living in those camps, you know, and getting to understand who in those camps would actually like to be housed,” she said.

Police advise if an encampment pops up on your property or someone else’s private property call the non-emergency line or 311.

– With files from CTV’s Stephanie Tsicos.

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