Shopping carts would have to be stored on-site in a locked unit, as part of the development approval conditions being considered by city council for the temporary shelter at Cannery Row in Red Deer. (Advocate file photo)

Shopping carts would have to be stored on-site in a locked unit, as part of the development approval conditions being considered by city council for the temporary shelter at Cannery Row in Red Deer. (Advocate file photo)

Red Deer city council to consider creating a shelter courtyard and support grant for vandalized businesses

Cannery Row shelter’s development permit conditions to be discussed Monday

Keeping Red Deer’s temporary homeless shelter at Cannery Row for another couple of years could cost city taxpayers nearly $600,00 for various site improvements and mitigations.

However, Railyards businesses affected by crime and vandalism could soon gain access to a $50,000 annual Vandalism Cleanup Support Grant.

Both of these items will be discussed by Red Deer city council on Monday as part of development permit considerations for the temporary shelter that’s operated by Safe Harbour.

On Jan. 17, Red Deer city council approved a land use bylaw amendment to allow the shelter to remain in its current downtown location at 5239-53rd Ave. until a permanent shelter is built in two years.

Now various site improvement recommendations are being proposed by administration to try to ease concerns expressed by downtown property owners about litter, vandalism and loitering.

Among the suggestions, which were based on a site analysis done by the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, is the installation of a six-foot metal fence around the entire perimeter of the shelter property, including screening as a wind break and for privacy.

Creating an interior courtyard with tables, seating, potted shrubs, and garbage receptacles for shelter clients is also proposed as a safe place for them to gather on the property.

Other recommendations are for:

– Safe Harbour to install signage to identify entrances and provide contained outdoor storage for shopping carts, bicycles etc within a secure area that is not visible from the street and is lockable.

– On-site security in the outdoor gathering area, as well as a monitored security system with cameras installed at the north site of the building to improve surveillance.

– Outside inspections of the property, including parking lot and courtyard should be done twice daily with cleanup of the site, and graffiti removal as soon as possible.

– Overnight security patrols within 400 metres of the shelter

– The establishment of a $50,000 per year vandalism clean-up support grant that would be available to businesses that have had smashed windows, cut fences and other property damage.

Kristin Walsh, the City of Red Deer’s safe and healthy communities manager, said there’s recognition that private property owners in the area need more financial assistance to cover the cost of insurance deductibles to replace broken infrastructure. Previously, the city had waived its $100 annual licensing fee.

All of these recommendation to be discussed by council on Monday would cost $593,600 over two years. It would be one-time funding of $353,300 (2022) and $240,300 (2023) from tax-funded operating reserves.

While items, such as the fencing, seating and garbage receptacles will likely only be needed at Cannery Row while it remains a shelter for another two years, the idea is to later re-purpose these items and put them to other uses around the city, said Walsh.

A report to council shows $39,000 was already spent to “mitigate antisocial behaviours” in Railyards and the downtown. Walsh recommends that a community liaison position and a clean-up team started last spring in partnership with the Safe Harbour and Downtown Business Association be continued as these have made a positive difference.

A report to council shows reports of litter fell by 48 per cent from August to November.

There’s nothing about the need for public washrooms in the report, but Walsh said, “it’s on our radar.” She hopes with more site certainty, Safe Harbour will be able to increase staffing and provide further washrooms access to shelter clients during the day.

Otherwise, she said the city will be bringing back its portable public washroom trailer in mid-May.

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Red Deer City Council