Kath Hoffman, Safe Harbour executive director, stands outside the temporary warming shelter. City council approved 20 new mats for the warming shelter at Monday’s meeting. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff)

Provincial emergency shelter support welcomed in Red Deer

Safe Harbour Society awaiting financial details from province

More than anyone, Kath Hoffman knows how badly Red Deer needs a permanent emergency shelter.

The Safe Harbour Society executive director also knows how hard her staff works to provide the support and care local residents on the fringes count on without having the kind of dedicated facility needed.

So, last week’s pledge of support of a around-the-clock Red Deer emergency shelter by Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir is a big deal.

“We’re exited to hear that announcement, really excited, because Red Deer has been waiting a long time to get our shelter facility to be what it needs to be,” said Hoffman on Tuesday.

Sabir said in a statement that the decision to back an emergency shelter came after consulting with community leaders and city council members.

Financial details are expected to be released in coming weeks, said the minister.

“I think it’s a great announcement and kudos to the city for the hard work they did to advocate continually and continually for this,” said Hoffman.

She also credits her staff who have been “trying to keep things going on with the Band-aids in place, just trying to keep everybody warm and safe.”

It is hoped that the province will provide both capital funding to create an emergency shelter, as well as operating funding.

“What we have to do, as always, is know what we have (in funding) before we know what we can make,” she said. “We’re waiting to hear what kind of capital they’ll be releasing and then in turn how do we make that work.”

Depending on how much money comes through, the society may have to consider fundraising in the community as well.

“It all depends on what they give us.”

Safe Harbour has 26 beds through its mats program, with another 20 available through the warming centre and 10 day-sleep beds.

It is hoped the new emergency shelter would be equipped to offer more private options for people who suffer from social anxiety or other challenges that make them uncomfortable in group settings.

“We’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years on the way to design a shelter that can shelter those complex needs more appropriately for people.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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