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Red Deerians can start giving input on the homeless shelter site starting on Wednesday

Opportunities will be available online until June 10, or in-person on June 9
The city will start community consultations for the new shelter project on Wednesday. (Advocate file photo)

Red Deerians can wade into the contentious debate about where the permanent homeless shelter should be located starting on Wednesday.

City council is giving the community a voice in the long-standing and controversial issue of where to put the new $7 million shelter. Public input will be gathered in person and online.

Online opportunities will be available from May 25 to June 10 at Participants will be asked to state why they agree or disagree with the criteria used for the site selection process. They can also share any new criteria that they believe should be added for selecting the appropriate site for a permanent shelter.

The City will also host six in-person opportunities for the community to share their input. These sessions will be split between two days – June 8 and 9.

Three sessions will target invited community stakeholders (June 8). The remaining three on June 9 will be open to public registration. Each session will have up to 25 participants engage in meaningful conversation, with the in-person format mirroring the online option.

The idea is to help community members without a place to live get support to work towards getting permanent housing.

“We know…our community believes a shelter is needed and supported, and our community wants to be involved in the process,” said Tara Lodewyk, Interim City Manager.

“We will want to gain a deeper understanding of why participants feel a particular site is a good site. This information will be shared with Council on June 20, then used to narrow down site options for Council to consider.”

The current seven criteria include: Ease of purchasing a site (if the proposed site is not owned by The City, the landowner must be willing to sell), Accessibility to existing support services; Size to accommodate a building that is at least 10,000 square feet; Compatible surrounding land uses; Whether there are development constraints that might make the site unsuitable for occupancy (ie.landfills, escarpments, proximity to floodways etc); Logistical efficiencies (would certain issues add to the development cost?); ability to leverage existing assets and/or co-locate important services in an integrated manner.

Other considerations are access to food and laundry services, a safe place to sleep, and medical services, addiction and mental health support, help in obtaining income support and other services.

“There is a lot of passion and emotion behind this project, and I know as a community we all want a solution that is built for Red Deer,” said Mayor Ken Johnston. “We ask that when you come to the table, virtually or in-person, you are open to ideas and information, and put forward feedback that will help us to find an appropriate site, based on criteria.

Red Deerians can visit starting on Wednesday to participate in the online input opportunities, or to register for an in-person session.

Tara Shand, Corporate Communications Manager said, “We want to truly understand the values and beliefs accompanying the information they are sharing to develop meaningful site criteria.”