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Alberta

Protecting vulnerable Albertans this winter

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Alberta’s government is investing an additional $21.5 million for Albertans experiencing homelessness and family violence.

The pandemic continues to have a large impact on vulnerable people, and this funding will ensure access to services like 24-7 emergency shelter and support for victims of domestic violence while keeping clients safe.

The government announced this additional support at the Hope Mission at the Herb Jamieson Centre. Alberta’s government fulfilled a platform commitment with $4 million for the centre’s recent construction. This announcement furthers those efforts to support vulnerable people in Alberta.

Alberta’s government is also providing $1.5 million to activate up to 200 additional shelter beds at Commonwealth Stadium and will support on-site overdose prevention and treatment services.

“As we continue to navigate through COVID, one of our top priorities is to make sure all Albertans have a safe place to stay and access to the support they need. Together with the $78 million previously announced by Alberta’s government, this additional funding will help organizations on the front lines deliver the services vulnerable Albertans need.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Our community partners are critical to making sure people experiencing homelessness and domestic violence have safe places to stay and where they can still access the supports they need. This funding will go a long way to ensure shelters are providing Albertans with critical supports in a healthy environment.”

Jason Luan, Minister of Community and Social Services

“A quick look outside the window, and you’ll see how important this announcement is to the houseless Edmontonians who were looking for a warm place to sleep during this winter. We have identified the shelter gap in recent meetings with the Premier and his ministers, and they have responded by providing emergency funding for the Spectrum shelter, three needed southside shelters and our enhanced capacity emergency shelter at Commonwealth Stadium. We welcome this support and look forward to building on this collaboration to find more permanent and sustained solutions to end houselessness in Edmonton.”

Amarjeet Sohi, mayor, City of Edmonton

“The Calgary Drop-In Centre has been on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with our community partners to decrease the spread within our city’s homeless population. We are grateful to our partners at the Government of Alberta for the additional funding, which will support medical staff and overflow spaces to meet the increased demand at our main shelter.”

Sandra Clarkson, executive director, Calgary Drop-In Centre

“This funding will allow us to maintain extra capacity during the critical winter season. With the unpredictability of COVID-19, we will be able to keep people safe and socially distanced. Thank you to the provincial government for equipping us with extra capacity to serve everyone who needs safe, warm shelter during the cold of Alberta’s winter.”

Bruce Reith, executive director, Hope Mission

The $21.5-million funding package will be distributed as follows:

  • $13 million for emergency homeless shelters
  • $6.5 million for isolation facilities
  • $2 million for emergency women’s shelters

Emergency homeless shelters

Funding will support 14 expanded homeless shelter facilities to meet physical distancing requirements. Funding will also support, where possible, 24-7 access to regular meal service, showers, laundry services and connection to addictions and mental health services and housing.

Isolation facilities

Funding will support about 285 isolation spaces in 10 communities. These facilities are a critical component of the shelter pandemic response, and help alleviate pressure in the public health system by helping shelter clients who contract COVID-19 isolate and receive medical care if hospitalization is not required. Additional capacity may be added in some rural communities as needed.

Emergency women’s shelters

This funding will support service delivery adjustments at emergency women’s shelters. Due to the pandemic, there has been an increase in domestic violence across Alberta. This funding will help shelter operators offer more support through community outreach and virtual service delivery as well as hotel isolation, and adjust in-shelter services to align with public health orders.

Quick facts

  • This funding guarantees these supports will be in place until March 2022.
  • This funding is in addition to $78 million announced in 2020.
  • Funding will support emergency homeless shelters in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Slave Lake and Wetaskiwin.
  • The 10 isolation sites are located in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Wetaskiwin, Peace River and Lac La Biche.
  • With the additional capacity at Commonwealth Stadium, up to 1,280 emergency shelter beds will be available in Edmonton this winter.
    • The shelter is anticipated to be operational in early December once an operator has been selected.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

First test production of plastic a milestone for Heartland Petrochemical Complex

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CALGARY — The $4.3-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex, which has been under construction northeast of Edmonton since 2018, has produced its first plastic pellets.

Owner and operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. said Tuesday the newly commissioned facility has been producing test pellets steadily since late June, an important milestone en route to the expected start of full commercial operation sometime this fall.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will convert Alberta propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene beads, an easily transported form of plastic that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.

Steven Noble, spokesman for Calgary-based Inter Pipeline, said the facility will be the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in North America. He said approximately 70 per cent of Heartland’s total production capacity has been already contracted out to long-term customers.

“Through the duration of the project’s construction, we’ve seen demand for polypropylene increase significantly … including at one point hitting an all-time record (market price),” Noble said in an interview. “The demand that we initially forecast certainly hasn’t gone away.”

The Heartland facility is being built with the support of a $408-million grant from Alberta’s provincial government. The cash grant, part of an incentive program aimed at growing the province’s petrochemicals sector, is to be paid to Inter Pipeline in equal instalments over three years once the complex is operational.

Noble said by creating a new market for propane, the Heartland facility is an example of how natural resource development in Alberta is diversifying.

“The fact that we’re now looking at our raw resources in a different way, and figuring out different ways to get value out of them and create other refined products right here at home … is really the part of the story that everyone here is excited about,” he said.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to employ 300 people once fully operational.

The polypropylene produced at the facility will be branded as Heartland Polymers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Edmonton council to ask province to support new centre to fight downtown crime

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By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

City council has voted unanimously to ask the government of Alberta to support the creation of a hub in Edmonton’s Chinatown where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime.

City administration submitted a report to council Monday that describes the proposed Healthy Streets Operations Centre.

David Jones, who is with the city and presented the report, told councillors it would not be a traditional police station.

“The people who will see the benefits of this include Chinatown residents and businesses, but also people who are on the streets who are vulnerable and being preyed on by some of the criminal element,” Jones said.

The creation of the centre is one of several actions the city has promised to address a spike in violent crime downtown, in nearby Chinatown and on the transit system.

Edmonton police officers have already increased their presence in problem areas.

In May, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro used his ministerial power to demand a report from the city on what is being done to get crime under control.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during Monday’s council meeting that the city has delivered with its plan for the centre and now it is time for the province to step up.

“Edmonton gets the lowest per-capita funding to support ending homelessness compared to seven other cities (in Alberta). I think it’s really important that we ask the people whose inaction has caused harm to the community to be stepping up,” Sohi said.

“Most of the violence in Chinatown is related to houselessness … and addictions causing a lot of harm to the community and to individuals. We’re asking city taxpayers to pick up the pieces or pay for the consequences of lack of investment in health and lack of investment in housing.”

Sohi added he gets the sense the province wants to help.

The provincial government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report says the centre will operate seven days a week, 21 hours a day, and could cost up to $18.1 million over the next four years.

The city and Edmonton Police Service could partially support the centre and Jones said there have also been offers from different businesses in Chinatown to provide a building for the hub at no cost.

But council voted in favour of asking the provincial government to determine how it can provide mental health, housing and shelter support.

Sohi said he plans to engage with the province and will report back to council on Aug. 15.

Jones said to get the centre up and running by next summer, the city aims to hire four peace officer sergeants, 16 community peace officers, two community safety liaisons and three firefighters or fire prevention officers.

The report said community members asked for increased security in problem areas and that building a centre in “hot spots” can effectively reduce crime. Research cited in the report has also shown it wont displace violence to other areas.

“Studies have consistently found no noticeable displacement and, in some cases, a diffusion effect, meaning that hot-spot policing reduces crime in the areas adjacent to the hot spots as well.”

Dr. Temitope Oriola, a criminology professor at the University of Alberta, said the hub model has been around for at least a decade in Canada and the centre is a good start.

“The real test is to ensure it is not too heavily tilted toward and reliant on policing,” he said in a email.

“The approach needs to have law enforcement as one of several critical components with people, community revitalization and customized social service at the epicentre.”

Oriola added the centre would be most effective in reducing crime if it also goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives in the city that address addictions issues and homelessness.

“Employment created should also focus on those most directly connected to Chinatown,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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