Regina firefighters, police monitor 'Camp Marjorie' as it continues to grow

A number of tents at a park in Regina‘s Heritage neighbourhood has continued to grow since the first tent was set up before the Thanksgiving long weekend.

On Wednesday, people at Camp Marjorie were seen bundled up as they tried to stay warm from the rain and cold weather that day.

The camp was named after a homeless woman who died last week in Regina, according to Gavin Siggelkow, a homeless advocate who’s staying at the camp.

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Members of Regina Fire and Protective Services visited the campsite just before noon on Wednesday to run an inspection check.

Siggelkow said they are exploring options to provide heat for camp members as temperatures start to fall.

“We’re looking at all avenues and ways that we can have heat because you can get under blankets to stay warm, but it’s not 40 below yet either,” Siggelkow said.

“I don’t think the government is going to move fast enough to get things fixed before wintertime, so we’re looking at something as quickly as possible.”

Firefighters haven’t been the only people keeping an eye on the camp. Regina police officers are also performing routine checks on those living at the site.

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Siggelkow noted that members from the ministry of social services have also stopped by to offer help, but he said that wasn’t until after an event on Tuesday at the park where members of the Saskatchewan NDP called on the provincial government to suspend the new Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program among other appeals.

The camp was started last Friday in Pepsi Park to support people affected by homelessness after SIS came into effect.

After replacing the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA), advocates say changes saw housing funds go right to program users instead of their landlords.

It has resulted in situations in which people are unable to pay their rent and are looking for shelter and food elsewhere, advocates say.

“We had 19 people Tuesday night, so it’s growing,” Siggelkow said.

“There’s a solution somewhere that we can fix most of the problem. We are never going to be able to eliminate the homeless problem altogether, but we can fix a lot of it and give people a proper avenue to go down.”

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Since the camp is not permitted to have any heat source or fire of any kind, Siggelkow said people have been dropping off ready-made food and drinks such as bottles of water, bags of sandwiches and donuts.

He admitted the acts of kindness lift their spirits.

“People have just been so generous bringing foods and supplies for us,” Siggelkow said.

“It has really made a lot of people open their eyes and see there is that many people out there who care about them. They are not alone here.”

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