A potential location has been selected for consideration for a future permanent integrated shelter, the City of Red Deer has announced.
The proposed site at 4934 54 Ave., was originally a City of Red Deer Parks facility and is now being used for storage.
“There is still a great deal of work to be done as it relates to finalizing capital and operational plans and dollars related to future shelter services in Red Deer. Plus, the location cannot be finalized until we hear from the public on the rezoning,” said Mayor Ken Johnston.
“However, getting to the stage where we can consult the public about a location is an exciting step in this process, and it will enable us, with the support of the province of Alberta to begin the next steps of this project as our community works together to establish a purpose-built shelter that responds to the needs of all in Red Deer.”
The vision for the future location, if the rezoning is approved, would involve the demolition of the current structure with the intent to replace it with a new building that would offer the many amenities required to operate an integrated shelter.
“A permanent shelter has been a need in our city for years, and I am so encouraged that we have reached the major project milestones of securing provincial funding and identifying a potential location,” said Johnston.
“Right now we are talking about site, but at its core, this project is about people. It is about shifting our focus to the future of an emergency shelter that provides dignity and hope for some of our community’s most vulnerable. The selection of this potential location is an exciting step in the process of addressing the issue of housing and homelessness in our city.”
Tara Lodewyk, interim city manager, said the city went through “where we vetted a number of sites against criteria. Some of this criteria includes the availability and readability of the site, and its proximity to other services, she said.
“We also looked at patterns of movement for the people who will be using the site. There was a long list of criteria that was applied and we selected this site at the end of that process.”
With the potential location identified, the rezoning and development process will now begin. Through these processes, the city will look to the community for feedback on the site and what the future structure may look and feel like. Public consultation will focus on the proposed new shelter use and ask for input on how this use could integrate into the neighbourhood.
“There has been extensive work done on where the permanent shelter could go, and council is confident that with receiving provincial agreement to consider this site, this is a good place to consider a future purpose-built shelter in our community,” said Johnston.
“We also know continued collaboration and work with our community is critical to ensuring its success.”
Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing, said this shelter will play a “very important factor” in serving the vulnerable population by providing a safe and warm place to sleep while they find permanent housing.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the City of Red Deer to better house people in need in their community,” said Pon.
Jason Luan, Minister for Community and Social Services, added, “I am pleased to see this integrated shelter will be built based on housing-focus and recovery-oriented model, which provides comprehensive and wholistic services to move people from homeless to recovery.”
The city will begin the public engagement process for re-zoning in the coming weeks. A timeline for when a permanent shelter would be constructed was not available Friday.
In November 2020, the province committed to $7 million in its 2020 Capital Plan for a purpose-built integrated emergency shelter in Red Deer. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Province of Alberta and the City of Red Deer was finalized in February 2021 to establish a general high-level understanding related to the provincially managed project to meet the current and future needs in the city.