City council has given Safe Harbour’s temporary homeless shelter two months to move from the former Cannery Row bingo site out of the downtown. But Safe Harbour operators say this time frame is insufficient. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

City council has given Safe Harbour’s temporary homeless shelter two months to move from the former Cannery Row bingo site out of the downtown. But Safe Harbour operators say this time frame is insufficient. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Two-month deadline for relocating Red Deer homeless shelter is too tight, says Safe Harbour

Social problems will escalate if shelter has to close

A too-tight time frame for relocating the Safe Harbour homeless shelter could potentially lead to 50-60 people to be sleeping outdoors, with no access to bathrooms, detox or health services, say shelter operators.

From increased demand on RCMP and EMS services, to “no place for concerned citizens to refer people that they see in distress” — Safe Harbour outlined the many problems that could result if the temporary homeless shelter is forced to close in the former Cannery Row Bingo building, without a new site being found outside the downtown.

Although city council gave Safe Harbour a two-month period for finding a new shelter location, the social service agency stated this actually allows only a two-week window to find a new site.

Downtown Red Deer is the only part of the city now zoned for a homeless shelter/detox facility, so rezoning a site outside the city’s core will be a six-week process, Safe Harbour stated in a release.

Its homeless shelter offers an overnight sleeping space to 50 to 60 people. Safe Harbour staff also operate drop-in and day-sleep programs, and helps connect people with housing, health services, including medically supported detox.

As well, Safe Harbour has outreach programs, gives referrals for addiction treatment, and access to bathrooms, showers, storage and laundry space.

All of that will be lost if the temporary shelter has to close without a new site being found, stated the release.

Red Deer City manager Allan Seabrooke said on Monday that he understands the challenges involved with the shelter’s relocation and recognizes that the two-month time limit could be insufficient.

City administration will have discussions with city council “about what the next steps should be,” said Seabrooke, “We may have to pivot back” and revisit the time frame for a shelter relocation, or look at other options, he added.

Related:

-Council wants shelter relocated in two months

-Industrial location not ideal for shelter: businesses

City administrators had recommended council extend the license to allow the shelter to remain at the downtown former Cannery Row Bingo site until a permanent shelter is built by the province in two to three years. But council was instead swayed by 25 letters received by surrounding downtown businesses that complained of crime and social disorder caused by some shelter clients.

It’s not the first time that city councillors have gone against an administrative recommendation, “but that’s just the way the process works,” said Seabrooke, who didn’t yet know when discussions with council will be held.

A statement from Red Deer city councillors on the situation is expected on Tuesday.

Safe Harbour board chair Buzz Vander Vliet, said, “We understand completely the frustrations of the downtown business community” that led to the March 29 city council decision.

But he believes it’s important for the community to understand that if a new shelter location can’t be found, “there will be 100 to 120 people a day on average with no where else to be,” and 50-60 people won’t have a safe place to sleep.

Kath Hoffman, executive director of the Safe Harbour Society, said, “People we serve, combined with the continual temporary facilities we’ve had to operate from, challenge us tremendously,” but the non-profit has been working for 19 years to try to help create a safer community.

While the Mustard Seed homeless shelter accepts people who are sober, Safe Harbour also accepts people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Dr. Michael Mulholland, a lead with Safe Harbour’s Medically Supported Detox Program, said these clients have complex medical and mental health needs: “Moving shelter services away from where this population is will not help us to address these complex social and medical issues or make an easy transition to stable housing and recovery.”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Homeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

RDC Queens forward Camryn Wallan was named the 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Wallan, Podgorenko named 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Athletes of the Year

Even with the cancellation of the 2020-21 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association, RDC… Continue reading

A new Angus Reid poll says that close to two-thirds of Albertans think premier Jason Kenney is doing a bad job handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
75% of Albertans disapprove of Kenney’s pandemic leadership: poll

Nearly 75 per cent of Albertans believe Premier Jason Kenney is doing… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Here masking tape was applied to both sides of a joint to be caulked. Peeling the tape off as soon as the caulking is smeared with a finger leaves behind a neat edge. (Photo by Robert Maxwell)
Houseworks: Unheated spaces can cause tools to rust

Q: How well do woodworking tools survive in an unheated Canadian workshop?… Continue reading

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is seen in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The University of Victoria and the head coach of its women's rowing team have denied allegations of demeaning and aggressive treatment outlined in a lawsuit filed last summer by a former student and team member. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Canada's Julia Grosso, right, and Wales' Natasha Harding battle for the ball during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday, April 9, 2021. Canada blanked Wales 3-0 but lost captain Christine Sinclair to an injury in the fist half of a soccer friendly Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-PA, Nick Potts
Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe, left, is tackled by Hong Kong's Toby Fenn, during the 2019 Japan Rugby Union World Cup qualifying match between Canada and Hong Kong, in Marseille, southern France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Claude Paris
Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher, right, makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against Germany at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Justin Rose, of England, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

People shop for essential items at Costco as pallets block off aisles and sections that have been deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, April 8, 2021. Retailers in Ontario are adjusting to new lockdown restrictions with stores like grocers, discount and big box chains roping off non-essential items from underwear to calculators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

Most Read