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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Canadian city plans unique memorial

September 08 2010
Reactions to the proposed statue commemorating Alberta‘s homeless dead are mixed

The city of Edmonton in the state of Alberta, Canada, is currently awaiting final approval from its city council to spend $36,000 (£22,000) on a statue dedicated to the memory of homeless people who have died on the city's streets, according to the Edmonton Sun.

The plans have received mixed reactions from residents of the city, with some feeling that the money would be better spent directly helping the homeless.

City councillor Ben Henderson insists, however, that the proposed statue is not taking money that would otherwise have gone to help the homeless. The money to pay for the statue is actually coming out of an arts fund supplied by The Edmonton Arts Council.

"I think there is a lot of confusion around that," said Henderson, a proponent of the proposed project, slated to go under the microscope of council's community services committee. "If [the money] did not go to this project, it would go to another community [art] project."

Homeless deaths are certainly an issue within Edmonton, a city which, with a population of just over one million, saw 46 homeless residents die in 2009. This is four times the ratio of homeless deaths to population compared with London, which has much milder winters.

Jeff Morgan, an active member of St Mungo's client representative group, Outside In, said: "I think that the memorial statue is a good use of public funding as it recognises the plight of homeless people.

"Although many will walk past and take no notice, some will stop and think, and this can only be a good thing. The amount is just a drop in the ocean when thinking of provision of services but can do some real good in helping raise awareness."