Red Deer city administrators will get more time to come up with possible alternative sites for the temporary homeless shelter — in case council opts to move it out of the downtown.
A public hearing will still go ahead on May 25 about whether the shelter should be allowed to remain at the former Cannery Row Bingo location in the downtown for two to three more years — until a permanent shelter is built — or be moved elsewhere in the city.
However on Monday, city administrators asked council for more time to return with a report on possible alternative shelter locations, if councillors decide to move it from its current location.
Council was given two reasons for the request: More time was needed to come up with site possibilities; and administrators also did not want their report to “co-mingle” with the public hearing, possibly influencing council’s decision on whether to move the shelter.
The majority of councillors approved allowing administrators until the third quarter to present this report.
Coun. Vesna Higham attempted to shorten the time frame to the end of July, saying she didn’t want to have to decide on moving the shelter “in the dead of winter.” But most other councillors opted to stick with the requested timeline rather than pushing administrators to rush their report.
Coun. Ken Johnston said he was confident administrators would get back to council as quickly as possible.
Coun. Buck Buchanan hoped the report would be presented, and a decision on the shelter made, before it becomes a fall election issue.
Last month, council gave first reading to allowing the shelter to stay at the temporary Cannery Row location for another year. But final approval will not be given until after the May 25 public hearing.
Earlier this year, 25 letters from area businesses were received by council complaining about social disorder, litter, vandalism and other crimes linked to some of the shelter clients.