Mid-September is now the target for Red Deer city council’s decision on a location for the permanent homeless shelter.
Mayor Ken Johnston said on Monday that council is “driving towards” Sept. 12 as decision day.
While something unexpected could always crop up to cause further delay, “I have a great deal of confidence” that a site will finally be pin-pointed in two weeks time, he added.
The discussion on Sept. 12 will further narrow down the three-to-five sites that are still on the table.
These comparisons can not happen in the public portion of the city council meeting, due to ongoing privacy concerns over sales and pricing matters, said Johnston. He noted that this information is protected under the Protection of Privacy Act because disclosure “could be harmful to the economic interests of a public body.”
Once council arrives at a final shelter location, however, the mayor pledged Red Deerians will not only hear which site is selected, but will also get a full explanation of how city council arrived at that decision, and how public input collected last spring informed the decision-making process.
“We are committed to transparency,” Johnston added, “People will see how their feedback is directly connected.”
Red Deer city council had been expected to come to a location decision on Monday, but instead held another lengthy closed-door discussion that involved going over an assessment of some newly proposed sites.
On Aug. 15, city council was presented with 12 possible shelter sites, and eliminated 10 of them during an in camera meeting. But then six additional sites were put on the table, bringing the total to eight.
A technical assessment had to be done on each of the new prospective sites, and the results were brought back to council during Monday’s closed meeting and given further review.
The mayor later revealed the selection was now down to “three to five sites.”
While the contents of Monday’s in camera discussion was not released, city council did approve some resolutions in the public portion of the meeting that revealed the next steps of the selection process.
One of the approved resolutions calls for asking the province for additional information on site considerations. Since the shelter is a provincial government project, it’s pro-active to get the province’s input into potential sites, said the mayor.
The majority of councillors also opted to ask administrators to provide them with further data before the Sept. 12 meeting on which factors would make for a successful shelter location, based on the experience of other cities, and which factors would determine economic impacts.
Coun. Kraymer Barnstable summarized the common sentiment by saying he welcomes every bit of information when making such a difficult and weighty decision.
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