Almost 1,000 signatures have been collected on a petition calling on the city to allow Safe Harbour’s homeless shelter to remain where it is until a permanent location can be found.
Three days ago, local business owner Dirk Heuer started the petition Keep Safe Harbour’s Shelter Program Temporarily in Current Location at change.org.
On March 29, city council gave Safe Harbour two months notice to find a new location outside of the city’s downtown after 25 letters came in from the downtown community complaining about crime and other issues caused by some shelter clients.
During the pandemic, the temporary shelter has operated in the former Cannery Row Bingo, and a permanent homeless shelter, promised to Red Deer by the province, won’t be built for two to three years.
“We are in a pandemic right now and COVID cases are rising. The variants are very contagious. Moving the shelter program to a different location, it will cause a disruption of services for Safe Harbour clients. This is really a very unfortunate time and I don’t think that this is a good move,” Heuer said.
As a business owner, he said the shelter’s location may only be part of the reason that downtown businesses are experiencing problems.
The cost of retrofitting another temporary site to accommodate the shelter is another factor that should be considered. It cost $140,000 to retrofit the current site, he said.
Shelter users would also continue to visit the downtown to use other services in the area.
Heuer intended to submit the petition to the city later this week and he was happy to see the support.
“My intent is to create awareness. Every town, every city, every province has this situation. We’re all humans. We all have a place in our community.”