Red Deer city council has given intial approval to banning future temporary care facilities in the downtown core.
Temporary care facilities include centres that provide temporary living accommodation including overnight shelters, halfway houses, short term medical rehabilitation centres, detoxification centres and hospices.
During Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Tara Veer said the motion does not impact exisiting facilities.
The proposed exclusion of future temporary care facilities from the Gaetz-Ross Heritage Area focuses on council’s interest in business retention and attracting diverse, long-term growth to the city’s core.
Removal of temporary residential uses will promote long-term residential uses, city staff explained during the meeting, adding the opportunity for overnight shelters is still available in the remainder of downtown.
In a brief presentation, city administration explained the proposed bylaw expands the Gaetz-Ross Heritage Area to include Little Gaetz (south to 46th Street), where streetscape improvements have been completed.
The existing Gaetz-Ross Heritage Area includes parcels fronting Gaetz Avenue from 52nd Street and stretching south to 48th Street, and on Ross Street from around 51st Avenue to approximately 49th Avenue.
The proposed bylaw will include the front parcels going further south on Gaetz Avenue to 46th Street.
Veer said it’s become evident that shelters have been concentrated in the city’s urban core.
“Over the years, we’ve seen a concentration of temporary care in historic downtown, and it’s highly evident it’s time to modermize the land-use bylaw, so that we are not working at cross purposes in terms of our efforts to transform the urban core,” said Veer.
The mayor said in her view, she would’ve preferred to have seen the resolution a few years ago.
“But there’s a time for everything, and I’m pleased it’s finally coming forward, so we can address this long-standing broad community concern.”
Feedback from the nearby community is in favour of the resolution, administration said.
Red Deerians who participated in community safety consultions between November last year to January were also in favour of reduced social supports in the downtown to reduce crime and increase safety.
The bylaw still needs second and third reading and a public hearing, which will be held Aug. 31.