Safe Harbour plans to use new evidence of downtown co-operation to try to sway Red Deer city council towards giving the temporary homeless shelter an extended stay at the downtown Cannery Row site.
City council has twice before opted to not allow the shelter to remain at Cannery Row for more than a few months. The last decision requires Safe Harbour to move the shelter to another location outside the downtown by Sept. 30.
But the non-profit has submitted an application to extend operations in the Railyards until a permanent shelter is built, or at minimum until Sept. 30, 2022.
Executive-director Kath Hoffman stated on Safe Harbour’s Facebook page that things have changed “and the parties are now working together.
“We have more people helping us now; the city is trying to help with the downtown bathroom situation, and the Downtown Business Association has enhanced their cleanups to include our area. Working together is the best way to do it. We couldn’t do everything ourselves and we shouldn’t have been held accountable for everything either,” said Hoffman.
She added Safe Harbour believes “very strongly this is the most logical, common sense solution to the problem.
“This isn’t to dismiss or disregard concerns of businesses in the area,” she said, about social disorder, drug use, garbage and crime.
“Those concerns are a result of a crisis the community is experiencing, and people are angry, but they’re misplacing that anger toward Safe Harbour,” added Hoffman, who concluded it isn’t an option to allow the temporary shelter to close, as “the consequences would do more harm than current circumstances.”
She noted that “no other property owners said that they want us, but our current landlord… You’d think they’d want us out if we were so bad.
“On the contrary, they’re finding we’re really responsive and constantly working to make things better. In reality, that’s what area businesses want and what we all want: a safer and healthier community.”
Safe Harbour has the right to apply to city council for an extension at Cannery Row shelter site since the two previous attempts to extend shelter operations in the downtown location were filed by the city administration on behalf of the non-profit.
This time Safe Harbour is making the application, said the city’s planning manager Emily Damberger.
A third public hearing will have to be held (council decided on the Sept. 30 deadline after the most recent public hearing on May 26), but no date has yet been set. As part of the process, property owners within 100 metres of the temporary shelter site (5239 53 Avenue) will be contacted by letter to give them an opportunity to provide feedback for council’s consideration.