As the problem of homeless encampments in city parks and alleys grows, city staff are trying out a new approach to deal with the issue.

The number of homeless and marginalized Londoners living in make-shift shelters is on the rise across the city.

Now city hall is changing how it deals with so-called urban camping or sleeping rough.

Informed Response is a three-month pilot project that emphasizes compassion, coordination with social services and outreach.

Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer Orest Katolyk says, “We are taking a very compassionate approach to this program, it is not enforcement-centric, and we are engaging social service agencies.”

A small electric vehicle can access the areas where Londoners set up encampments.

Then the program targets the causes of homelessness rather than just enforcing bylaws, moving people and cleaning up.

That means shelter and social assistance is offered first and clean ups respect people’s possessions, which can be stored by the city at no cost.

Katolyk says, “For the initial month we were removing on an average more than one encampment per day.”

The project is now at its halfway point and a report on its effectiveness will be provided to city council in February.