City releases preliminary shelter report

Red Deer to assess medium and long term shelter needs

A preliminary report on a standalone shelter will be released early by the City of Red Deer after the Province of Alberta announced potential funding for the planning and development of temporary shelter services last week.

The province’s announcement came on the heels of work that is already underway in Red Deer to assess medium and long term shelter needs following City council’s approval of a purpose built shelter study in January. While the full study is not yet complete, a decision to release a preliminary report was made by City council at the July 24th meeting because of tight provincial timelines that call for Expression of Interest (EOIs) to be submitted by Aug. 11th.

“This tight provincial timeline makes it difficult for us to ensure our local service providers and agencies have the information they need to respond to the Expression of Interest. However, the City is in a position where we do not want to jeopardize potential funding for our community, and releasing this preliminary report enables us to share information with our local service providers while we continue to work through the final details of the study,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

She said a couple of years ago the City had convened a round table with service providers in their community when there had been a local charity closure identifying those service gaps.

“Because of provincial timelines we certainly don’t want to jeopardize any potential funding for our community, but this is the best that we can do at this point because we really have committed to not only that stakeholder consultation, but general public consultation as well,” she said.

Despite the release of this preliminary shelter report, further consultation will take place over the next number of months, and a full report and recommendation will be brought back to City council towards the end of the year.

“Unfortunately, the full purpose built shelter study is not yet complete. It has not yet gone through an internal review by all City departments, and there is still further consultation that needs to take place with both stakeholders and the general public before administration can finalize the report and make recommendations to City council,” said City Manager Craig Curtis.

The final report will include information about shelter site selection, shelter and supports program planning and facility design and costing, for which the City will advocate for provincial capital and operating funds.

The province’s EOI is supported by the 2016 announcement that the Alberta Government committed $1.2 billion in capital funding over five years.

Councillor Paul Harris said it’s important the public know that this is very preliminary and is a draft only at this point.

Councillor Tanya Handley agreed, reiterating Harris’ points, adding a big focus for council has been community dialogue.

“I think we’ve been putting in a very, very big effort to do that, to have people understand what’s happening and to engage with people to find out what’s going on in the community and what our community wants,” she said.

Councillor Lawrence Lee said this is about getting it right.

“It’s not just solely about community dialogue engagement that has happened over the course of the last couple of years, but there’s further work to be done to make sure that we get this one right because it’s such an important initiative for our community,” he said.

The City of Red Deer will also direct administration to continue to work with the consultant or internal administrative review followed by further stakeholder and general community consultation. The final report will be submitted to the province as part of the City’s advocacy initiative.