Safe Harbour Society has not given up the fight to keep its temporary shelter at the former Cannery Row Bingo site downtown.
Another application is going to be made to the city to extend the shelter’s lease beyond a Sept. 30 deadline, which council refused to extend after much debate last month.
Society executive director Kath Hoffman said during a live Facebook event on Monday that the organization plans to apply itself to maintain the necessary zoning. Previous applications were made by the city, she said.
“We are going to try that same route and hopefully council will pass the first reading of the bylaw and it will mean another public hearing.
“We knew that we had to do something. We had to try,” she said. “To not try is to not meet our mission statement.”
The zoning that allows for the shelter was originally to expire at the end of April but council agreed to an extension to the end of September. At a June council meeting, council directed administration to investigate buying a piece of land that the permanent shelter could eventually be built on — and moving used ATCO trailers onto the site in the meantime for use as a temporary shelter.
Hoffman said some believe that when the shelter is moved elsewhere those who use its services will follow.
“They think that maybe all of their problems will go away if the shelter goes away,” she said. “I don’t think that it will have that outcome necessarily.”
Despite being denied a further extension, Hoffman believes there is hope that minds can be changed.
Hoffman said the society and city have worked together on other successful projects, such as the roll-out of the 211 number at the beginning of the year. Dialing the number puts the caller in touch with people who can respond to non-emergency calls.
She is also encouraged that the city continues to move forward on an initiative to build a temporary public washroom downtown as part of a pilot project.
The Downtown Business Association has also agreed to extend the area its cleanup crews cover to include the area around the shelter.
Hoffman said 85 per cent of those who use the shelter are from central Alberta “so we are definitely serving our community.”
About 40 to 50 people typically stay overnight at the shelter although the number swelled to 70 during a rainstorm last month.
The shelter is needed in the community, she said. Addictions soared in 2016 and groups such as the society have been trying to catch up ever since.