Red Deer City council approved a development permit for Safe Harbour Society’s Temporary Winter Daytime Warming Centre and Overnight Shelter to move its opening day up by one month.
Council heard that the change to the opening date is necessary due to the unpredictable climate as winter approaches.
And as there has been snowfall sooner than expected, Safe Harbour Society wanted to provide their services to individuals earlier.
The approval for 20 beds in the overnight shelter will also meet the growing needs of Safe Harbour Society and will reduce the number of those who are turned away, council heard.
The warming centre opened Oct. 2nd as a result of the development permit’s approval by council.
The recommendation effectively moves the opening dates to this week instead of early November, which is usually when the service gets underway.
The warming centre will run until April 30th.
It was also noted that shelters are an important part of the City’s housing continuum, as they allow individuals to have their basic needs met.
“It’s really good news,” said Kath Hoffman, executive director of the Safe Harbour Society. “It’s going to have all of us breathing a little easier through the cold weather.
“Also, it was really good to be able to match the winter warming centre hours to the Overdose Prevention Site. So we are happy about that, too,” she said.
Safe Harbour Society had requested consideration of the earlier date to coincide with the opening of the Overdose Prevention Site which took place this week, and to accommodate those who are waiting for services offered there, according to council notes.
Hoffman said the move is a step in the right direction.
“Like Mayor Veer said, we are committed to working on those permanent plans right along beside her. It’s great – it’s step by step. It’s been a long road, but I think we are getting somewhere, so it’s good,” she said of the extension.
“We are as dedicated to that push. We need to get that capital infrastructure in our community. We’ve got to do it,” said Hoffman, noting the rising need in the community.
“I think the community voice is really trying to support her and council as they are looking for that structure, so I think that’s great.”
In the meantime, Hoffman said, “What we can do with the warming centre now is to have that warm place for people to wait in if there are those line-ups for the Overdose Prevention Site.
“That’s great for us, and it’s great for the people” she added.
Hoffman said it’s also expected that the numbers of those utilizing the mat program will increase over the coming season.
“Once we hit 26 (capacity), there is nowhere else for those people to go,” she said. “So, if we have the warming centre which is right there, heated and warm, we can open those doors to welcome those potential turn-aways,” she explained.
Council voted unanimously to support the request.
“I think we are being very proactive on this and I support the motion,” said Coun. Dianne Wyntjes.
More to come.