City council rejected this potential location for a permanent shelter at 4934 54 Ave. after public opposition. (File photo by Advocate staff)

City council rejected this potential location for a permanent shelter at 4934 54 Ave. after public opposition. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Permanent shelter site decision coming by July 18

Public will be asked what council should consider when shortlisting a site

Red Deer city council has set itself a July 18 deadline to find a permanent shelter site.

After council dropped a chosen riverfront site in March following public backlash, council asked administration to map out a public participation strategy to help pick another site.

Two options were presented to council on Monday. One would have called on the province to lead public consultation efforts, the other proposed the city play a bigger role in getting feedback on a permanent shelter site.

At Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Vesna Higham proposed a third option, which called for administration to “conduct timely, strategic, solution-focused community engagement prior to June 20, 2022 — to provide our citizens the opportunity to comment on potential site criteria (or another shelter-related matter) for council’s consideration.”

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The motion calls on city staff to promote emailed, online or written submissions by June 20 to those who cannot attend in-person consultation sessions. Higham also wants a report prepared on the potential for a city-owned site on Riverside Drive north of 67th Street and that information posted on the city website.

The motion also sets the July 18 council meeting on decision day for a permanent site.

Mayor Ken Johnston was visibly relieved when the motion passed unanimously after council had spent several hours debating the shelter issue.

“That’s outstanding council,” said Johnston. “To say the very least, that’s outstanding.”

A few moments before, Johnston called on the community to look at all possibilities.

“Please come to the (consultation) sessions with an open mind and an open heart,” he said. “If you live in the east, don’t pick the west end.

“Please look at what can be, not what is today.”

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Johnston said it is time to land a decision. “We need to land and we need to land wth a good, co-operative community.”

In proposing her motion, which was altered after staff expressed some reservations with the wording, Higham said it was time council stepped up and made a decision on the shelter issue.

Interim city manager Tara Lodewyk said the city is approaching the latest consultation efforts with a clean slate.

“There are no sites on the table,” said Lodewyk.

Before any potential locations are shortlisted, the city wants to hear what the public think council should take into consideration before making a decision.

“We’re going to ask them what criteria they would use to choose a permanent shelter location.”

Previously, city councillors had narrowed down 80 potential shelter locations to 20, and then to five, before putting the riverfront proposal forward that proved highly unpopular with the downtown business community.

Lodewyk said some of the sites shortlisted this time may have been looked at previously. Others may be new this time around.



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