The location for Red Deer’s permanent shelter hasn’t yet been determined — but city council revealed on Monday that discussions on this project are moving ahead with the province.
Mayor Ken Johnston said resolving shelter-related issues was his main priority during the last election, so he’s happy to take some steps forward within 20 days of being sworn into office.
On Monday, city council gave administration the go-ahead to work with the Government of Alberta on what the future permanent emergency housing project will look like in Red Deer.
Council brought formerly in camera details to the open meeting to allow for these discussions to take place.
“Our number one priority as council is to get a permanent emergency housing site built and operational so our vulnerable population have a consistent safe place to go, day and night. This project is absolutely critical for our community,” said Johnston.
“The operating model council supports will provide wrap-around services,” a safe, supportive stop on the road to people being able to one day access permanent housing, he added. ”We have handed the baton over to administration to be able to take the next steps on making this a reality.”
Since a shelter can have negative spillover effects on a wider area, council also directed administration to work with the province on “neighbourhood integration strategies” that will also support the surrounding area, and community as a whole once the facility is operational.
A location for the emergency shelter has not yet been determined, but Johnston said he could know more on Nov. 29 when a progress report is brought back to council.
The goal is to work with the province to lay groundwork for “a successful outcome-based operating model at the site, as well as seamlessly integrating the site into our community,” the mayor added.
Johnston believes everyone in Red Deer has been impacted by homelessness in one way or another — local residents, businesses and tourism operators. The city’s very identity is tied to how it is handled, he added.
Supporting those who are struggling “is imperative to the overall success of our community, not just those who will access the services.”
Once the site is built, the Government of Alberta will be responsible for contracting service providers to operate the facility.
In 2019, the provincial government announced $7 million to fund a permanent shelter in Red Deer. A memorandum of understanding was signed by the city and the province in November 2020 that outlines mutual intentions for a quality, purpose-built shelter.