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Province not yet convinced the site chosen by city council for homeless shelter is best one

No timeline was provided for when a decision will be made
The province is still mulling over whether the site selected for Red Deer’s permanent homeless shelter by city council is appropriate. (File photo by Advocate staff)

The provincial government is still mulling over whether the site selected by city council for Red Deer’s future permanent homeless is an appropriate location.

“It’s critical that the right site for this integrated shelter in Red Deer supports the need of all affected groups,” stated Roy Dallmann, spokesperson acting for Alberta Seniors and Housing.

While some downtown businesses do not want the permanent homeless shelter located in their midst, questions were raised by service providers about the appropriateness of locating the shelter far away from necessary services, which are now in the downtown, and then attempting to bus homeless clients.

Another option discussed during the site selection process was having all of the needed services relocated to the area where the homeless shelter is built and offering them as “wrap-around services.”

Dallmann added, “We appreciate the input from Mayor Johnston and others towards ensuring that this new facility supports the needs all of Red Deerians in need. For this shelter to be successful, it needs to be located where it will do the most good.

“We are still in discussions to confirm that the short listed sites will satisfy those needs.”

As to when Red Deerians will finally get to find out which location has been chosen for a permanent homeless shelter in the city, Dallmann did not answer that question.

Instead he added, “Alberta’s Government is committed to building a shelter in Red Deer so we have allocated $7 million in capital funding to support Red Deer’s integrated emergency shelter.

“We continue to work with all partners to ensure the right site is selected to satisfy all of the interested groups involved, including the City of Red Deer and local recovery and homelessness groups.”

Mayor Johnston and the rest of city council spent a good part of last week answering provincial questions about this.

Johnston later said the city has fulfilled its responsibility by selecting the site for the shelter project, and he added it is now up to the province to ratify this chosen site and to release information to the public as to where it is.

The extensive site selection process, with public input, turned up more than 96 possible locations. These were later whittled down by city council until a final site was selected Sept. 12 in a closed meeting.

But that site has not yet been ratified by the province, which holds the purse-strings for the shelter building project.

The timeline for construction was supposed to be two years. Red Deer’s temporary homeless shelter was been allowed to keep operating at the former Cannery Row bingo site until Feb. 1, 2024.