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“Next steps”on Red Deer’s homeless shelter project will be revealed by Friday: council

Four resolutions were passed by council — but Red Deerians were not told what was being voted on
Red Deer city council is now saying next steps on the Red Deer permanent homeless shelter project will be revealed by Friday.(Advocate file photo).

Red Deer city councillors left a four-hour, closed-door meeting on the permanent homeless shelter without revealing anything about the location or time-line for construction.

Council is now saying more information about “next steps” on the project will be released to the public by Friday.

Information about the shelter location will be shared, stated a city communications person — but first, the City of Red Deer wants to “unite with another party” “to be involved in communications.”

This was later confirmed to be the provincial government.

The City of Red Deer had suggested last week that more information would be forthcoming after Tuesday’s meeting. A news release on the city’s website states: “The City of Red Deer now has more information from the Province of Alberta to be able to talk about next steps and about sharing information with the community.”

Mayor Ken Johnston was unavailable to explain why there’s another delay in information sharing.

After coming out of the in-camera session on Tuesday, the mayor and council unanimously approved four resolutions.

But details about what was being passed were not shared with Red Deerians, though municipal councils must conduct votes on resolutions in public, under terms of the Municipal Government Act. The reasons given were that disclosure would be harmful to personal privacy, to business interests of a third party, and that council was acting on advice from officials.

The City of Red Deer has been working with the Alberta government on locating a site for an integrated homeless shelter for many months.

Last September, council selected a location that the government ultimately did not agree with.

A second site selection was then put forward by the city that was favourable to the province. But that yet-unknown location is on privately owned land, and the province had to start negotiating with the landowner to purchase it.

In November, Mayor Johnston was feeling “99 per cent sure” that provincial approval for the homeless shelter site was imminent. But Red Deerians were told they wouldn’t learn more about the location until it is a done-deal and the land purchase was finalized.

The province has, so far, committed $7 million to building a permanent shelter with integrated services that would replace the temporary homeless shelter that now operates in the former Cannery Row Bingo site, north of Superstore.

City council considered 96 possible shelter locations around Red Deer before narrowing down options.

The original target date for the permanent shelter’s completion, March 2024, has been pushed into doubt by repeated delays.

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