Connect with us

City of Red Deer

City goes back to square one in search for permanent shelter site

Published

17 minute read

No site for future permanent shelter currently selected

The most recently considered site for a future permanent shelter in Red Deer is no longer on the table after City Council ceased negotiations with the private landowner last week.

The decision to cease negotiations occurred as the site was determined to be cost prohibitive based on currently committed provincial funds. The size of the site, servicing required, and environmental factors all contributed to the financial constraints, making the site unviable.

On the heels of this decision, City Council is going back to the province to talk about a way forward in absence of a site, and to call on the province to share their potential vision and operating model for a future permanent shelter before moving forward to find another site.

“This is a provincial project. With four sites previously and unsuccessfully put forward to the Province of Alberta, it is time for a different conversation – a conversation that includes discussion about process, about model and operator. We as a City Council want to know what services a future permanent shelter might include. We want to know who it will serve. We want to know how it will be integrated into our community,” said Mayor Ken Johnston. “There are several factors currently hindering our ability to proceed, cost is just one of these factors. We know our community wants certainty, as does City Council. We will continue to do everything we can to work with the province to site and develop a permanent shelter that acknowledges the needs of all in our city.”

Over 130 sites were considered for a permanent shelter in Red Deer, with four formally put forward to the Province of Alberta for consideration:

  • The first site considered by City Council was located in Railyards (downtown). Following targeted input sessions, City Council decided not to proceed with the site as it did not align with community needs and values. It was removed as a site option.
  • The second site recommended by City Council was located at the north end of Red Deer and was not supported by the province due to concerns related to compatibility with nearby amenities.
  • The third site, located in south Red Deer, was unanimously supported by City Council on October 11, 2023, followed by support from the province; however, land negotiations failed.
  • The fourth site put forward was located in northeast Red Deer. It was initially supported by the province; however, City Council has now ceased negotiations as it was determined to be unviable. The size of the site, servicing and other factors all contributed to the site being cost prohibitive.

The City is not releasing the addresses of the sites put forward to the province as we focus on next steps and work to respect the privacy of the private property/landowners today and going forward.

“We want to share more information with our community as we progress through this process. But right now, we are working to find a way forward with the province, and we do not have any new information to share just yet. We know this is disheartening for many. I, like you, hoped we might already have shovels in the ground for a new permanent shelter in Red Deer. But siting and developing a shelter in the right place in the right way is important work, and we want to ensure we are aligned in our vision and approach. We are committed to honouring a housing first focus that considers the needs and impacts for everyone in our city. Red Deer, I believe we will get there; we just need to find a new way forward.”

According to Red Deer’s Point in Time (PIT) Count, held in the fall of 2022, the number of persons experiencing homelessness in the city increased to 334 in 2022 from 144 in 2018, confirming local outreach staff expectations that the number of people experiencing homelessness is increasing.

The temporary shelter is approved to continue to operate in its current location at 5239 53 Avenue until at least May 1, 2025, with City Council remaining committed to continued emergency shelter in Red Deer.

A community update will be provided following City Council’s meeting with the Province of Alberta. A date has not been set for the meeting, but Mayor Johnston anticipates a response from the province this week.

For more information on the future shelter project, visit reddeer.ca/shelter.

FAQ: Permanent Shelter

Work related to siting and development of a permanent shelter in Red Deer continues with The City of Red Deer working alongside the Province of Alberta in its endeavour to site and build a permanent shelter in our city.

1. Why does Red Deer need a permanent shelter?

The purpose-built permanent integrated emergency shelter will be designed to respond to the long-term social needs of our vulnerable population. Council has advocated for a housing-focused shelter model where a move to permanent accommodations is prioritized, helping to ensure shelter stays are brief, rare, and non-reoccurring.

Over the past decade, temporary emergency shelter solutions have been implemented but these have not been designed spaces to support service delivery to those who are facing homelessness and addictions. People in the social service sector have worked tirelessly to support those in need, but they need support to advocate and implement long-term strategies that will be mutually beneficial.
According to Red Deer’s Point in Time (PIT) Count, held in the fall of 2022, the number of persons
experiencing homelessness in the city increased to 334 in 2022 from 144 in 2018, confirming local outreach staff expectations that the number of people experiencing homelessness is increasing.

2. What does purpose-built mean?

Purpose-built, in reference to the permanent shelter, refers to the design of the building and the spaces and amenities that are included. The design and build should meet the needs of those who will access the services offered, as well as supporting the surrounding neighbourhood and the community. The City and the province will work with the community to identify the necessary components of the build, ensuring its success as part of a continuum of social support services offered in Red Deer.

3. What does integrated mean in relation to a permanent shelter?

When The City refers to a future permanent shelter as being “integrated”, it means the facility will include a variety of services to help the immediate needs of our vulnerable population, including a primary focus on their journey to obtaining and retaining permanent housing. Services that support an individual’s immediate needs can include items like food, laundry, a safe place to sleep, and medical services. Other services that may be considered in the permanent shelter include services like addiction and mental health support, help in obtaining identification, support in obtaining income, among other services. Some services may be permanent fixtures in the shelter, while others may be temporary or satellite offices.

4. What is The City’s role in the shelter project?

This is a provincial project; however, The City of Red Deer has been a partner in the site selection process with the Province of Alberta looking to us to recommend a site that we believe works for our community.

The Province of Alberta has ultimate authority over decisions related to the permanent shelter, with The City of Red Deer’s authority and formal responsibility limited to zoning and/or permitting for a future site.

5. Has a site been selected for the future permanent shelter in Red Deer?

No. At this time, a site for the future permanent shelter is not selected as the four sites put forward by The City of Red Deer to the Province of Alberta have not moved forward due to a variety of factors including, but not limited to financial constraints. The size of the site, servicing and environmental considerations are all factors that have contributed to the site being cost prohibitive.

6. Why not? And what sites were put forward?

Over 130 sites were considered by The City of Red Deer for a permanent shelter, with four formally put forward to the Province of Alberta for consideration.

• The first site considered by City Council was located in Railyards (downtown). Following targeted
input sessions, City Council decided not to proceed with the site as it did not align with community
needs and values. It was removed as a site option.

• The second site recommended by City Council was located at the north end of Red Deer and was not supported by the province due to concerns related to compatibility with nearby amenities.

• The third site, located in south Red Deer, was unanimously supported by City Council on October 11, 2023, followed by support from the province; however, land negotiations failed.

• The fourth site put forward was located in northeast Red Deer. It was initially supported by the
province; however, City Council has now ceased negotiations as it is cost prohibitive.

7. Why won’t The City release the addresses of the recommended sites?

There are many factors to consider in releasing addresses of the considered sites. Not all of the sites being considered are municipally or provincially owned, and The City of Red Deer and Province of Alberta are committed to not only protecting the integrity of the negotiation process in advance of securing a site, but also want to respect the privacy of private property/landowners who may choose to enter into negotiations with the province about a potential site.

8. When will another site be chosen?

We do not know. City Council is committed to moving forward as quickly as possible, but there are many factors at play. More information will be shared following a meeting with the Province of Alberta that is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

9. How much will the future permanent shelter cost, what funding is currently in place and who is
funding the project?

We do not yet know what the full cost of a permanent shelter might be. It is a provincially funded project with the province committing $7 million towards the purpose-built integrated shelter in Red Deer. This occurred initially in March 2018 with the newly elected government recommitting these funds in November 2020.

10. How did City Council decide what sites to recommend to the Province of Alberta?

City Council set its policy direction through the development of some site criteria to help guide the site selection process. The criteria includes:

• Ability to acquire site
• Adequate size
• Broad community impact
• Impacts to surrounding area
• Accesses to services and supports

11. Has The City consulted the public about the permanent shelter?

Yes. The City consulted citizens and stakeholders along the way, through the following mechanisms:

• In February 2022, The City hosted seven targeted meetings with a third-party engagement
specialist to develop an understanding about downtown property owners, businesses,
associations, and service providers to provide feedback on process and a particular site, that was
proposed.

• In May and June 2022, The City hosted online and in person input opportunities with more than
900 participants.

• City Council continues to evaluate and assess informal comments and contributions from citizens
and stakeholders about the permanent shelter.

12. Will there be future opportunities for engagement and consultation with the community?

When a future site is selected, it may require a public hearing if it is not appropriately/already zoned for shelter use; however, we do not yet know where a shelter may be located and therefore, we do not yet know what the formal consultation process may look like. The City expects the Province of Alberta will consult citizens and stakeholders in the development and construction of a permanent shelter in Red Deer.

13. Why are many of the conversation about shelter being had in closed meetings of Council?

Unfortunately, closed meetings of council have been necessary throughout this process as we worked to protect the integrity of the negotiation process and moved through site selection options. At the end of the day, there were more than 130 addresses considered with some of these sites being municipally and provincially owned while others are privately owned.

City Council directed administration to leave no stone unturned, which meant an exhaustive and iterative process before property/landowners would ever be engaged. It would be unreasonable to expect administration to reach out to all private property/landowners in advance of City Council’s review process.

Closed meetings were necessary to protect the interests and privacy of property/landowners on the list of potentially considered sites, to protect the integrity of the negotiating process, and to ensure administration and City Council could be thorough in its review and analysis before ever coming back out to the public.

More from this author
2024 City Councilor By-Election / 7 days ago

Get to know your candidates for city council: Calvin Yzerman

2024 City Councilor By-Election / 7 days ago

Get to know your candidates for city council: Ashley Macdonald

2024 City Councilor By-Election

Get to know your candidates for city council: Calvin Yzerman

Published on

From elections.reddeer.ca

About the Candidate

I know Red Deer. I have lived here since 1961. This by-election is a somber occasion for myself and many others in our community as we have lost an irreplaceable community friend and Councillor. Red Deer has been good to our family and has a lot going for it. Our choice location in Central Alberta along the Queen Elizabeth II Highway makes Red Deer an ideal hub to service the rest of Alberta and Western Canada. The Regional Airport is a short drive away. Thank you for taking the time to vote.

Candidate Priorities

Housing and Homelessness I am hopeful that all levels of Government can come together to solve this urgent problem. Non-profits, and private-sector housing providers can also play a role in developing innovative and sustainable affordable housing projects.
Crime Prevention and Policing Everyone wants a safe community and crime prevention is a top concern. I support Red Deer’s Annual Policing Plan. I was recently reminded by members of the Social Diversion Team to call 403-406-2200 if you see someone need of non-emergency support.
Infrastructure and Utilities Infrastructure and Utilities is one of those areas that City residents rely upon everyday. I feel that the City of Red Deer has a strong Strategic Plan in place to address new and aging infrastructure. Spring road repairs could improve.
Public Transit I feel that The City of Red Deer Transit Network Improvements Project was well designed to address transit service in Red Deer. I also support a modern safe high speed train connection between Alberta’s major Cities.
Restoration of Red Deer EMS Dispatch Our local Red Deer EMS Dispatch model was top notch and service suffered greatly when the Province consolidated EMS dispatch. I would strongly urge the Province to restore EMS dispatch to its former model.

Contact Information

* Candidate profiles are published as submitted. Please note: The City does not operate, review, endorse or approve any external site listed here and is not responsible or liable for any damages arising from linking to or using these sites.

Red Deer voters will have many opportunities to cast their ballot in this By-Election. Advance Vote will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April 18 to 20. Voters will be able to select one of three Advance Vote locations at Parkland Mall, Baymont by Wyndham Red Deer or Westerner Park. The same voting stations will be open for voters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on By-Election Day, April 22.

Information about the By-Election, including details about where to vote, who is running and how to vote is available on the Elections website at elections.reddeer.ca.

Continue Reading

2024 City Councilor By-Election

Get to know your candidates for city council: Liam (The Level) Milaney

Published on

From elections.reddeer.ca

About the Candidate

I was born in Red Deer and grew up between West Park in Red Deer and our Farm west of Bowden. I have been living in Downtown Red Deer for the last 20 years in a historic home built in 1904. In 2022 I ran for City Council because of my Love for the City and watching the history being erased and culture harder to access. I am running now and will continue to do so because I see how with my experience and forward-thinking approach, we can make Red Deer a better place for all.

Candidate Priorities

1. Managing the Fiscal Budget We are still reeling because of the pandemic. I believe however that there needs to be more scrutiny when it comes to city spending. Management of projects and infrastructure, as well as finding ways to promote businesses to choose Red Deer.
2. Crime and Harm Prevention Firstly, we need to provide more affordable and facilitated housing opportunities. To get people who wish to be off the streets, providing a safe place to live and grow a family.
3. Incentivizing Commercial/Industrial Business The fact of the matter is that we need to start transitioning to more renewable sources of power and power production, now. I see these industries hybridizing in a cohesive way. Thusly reducing unemployment and increasing city growth.
4. Encourage Downtown Growth and Community Our core used to be a destination! Not a place to avoid. For this, many factors come into play, including: the rise in the cost of living, unemployment, the way the city has built a corridor for the homeless and transient population.
5. The Protection of Red Deer’s Cultural History We are still reeling because of the pandemic. I believe however that there needs to be more scrutiny when it comes to city spending. Management of projects and infrastructure, as well as finding ways to promote businesses to choose Red Deer.

Contact Information

* Candidate profiles are published as submitted. Please note: The City does not operate, review, endorse or approve any external site listed here and is not responsible or liable for any damages arising from linking to or using these sites.

 

Red Deer voters will have many opportunities to cast their ballot in this By-Election. Advance Vote will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April 18 to 20. Voters will be able to select one of three Advance Vote locations at Parkland Mall, Baymont by Wyndham Red Deer or Westerner Park. The same voting stations will be open for voters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on By-Election Day, April 22.

Information about the By-Election, including details about where to vote, who is running and how to vote is available on the Elections website at elections.reddeer.ca.

Continue Reading

Trending

X