Temporary warming centre passes first reading

  • Jul. 22, 2015 3:01 p.m.

City council has given first reading to a Land Use Bylaw amendment that would allow for a temporary warming centre operated by a contracted agency for the next two winters at 4934 – 54th Ave. The amendment request is temporary in nature as the City continues to work with other community agencies and stakeholders on a long-term solution.

“The amendment will permit a daytime seasonal warming centre to be temporarily located at 4934 – 54th Ave. until June 1, 2017,” said Tara Lodewyk, director of planning services. “The next step will be a public hearing before council on Aug. 17th potentially followed by final readings. If final readings are given, council will review and approve the development permit application.”

The former Parks building site – located in the Railyards District in the Greater Downtown Area Plan – was chosen after reviewing a number of other sites based on criteria developed following a review of the 2014-2015 warming centre. A Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) review will take place on the location.

“A CPTED review will be undertaken both as a requirement of the development permit and as a broader requirement because we know there are some issues in the area that need to be addressed,” said Angus Schaffenburg of the City’s planning department.

Lodewyk added this proposed location will not diminish the long-term vision for the Railyards District in the Greater Downtown Action Plan. “We will work with surrounding property owners throughout the process to ensure their concerns are taken into consideration.”

The building being considered contains a number of medium-sized rooms that can accommodate an area for client intake, separate meeting space for community organizations to meet with clients, general areas for activities, and two washrooms with shower rooms. The facility would only be open during the day and no overnight accommodations would be provided.

During his presentation to council, Schaffenburg said there is no perfect site for the temporary warming centre.

“Staff feel that this is the best option in the downtown,” he said. “There was an extensive site selection process that was done. They were looking for temporary space that could easily be converted and could have various rooms and a space that would allow for good security. It has to be well located to other services that the homeless require – so it had to be located well in the downtown area to serve this vulnerable population. When looking at this we wanted to try and minimize impact to neighbouring businesses as well and this location is somewhat isolated from other neighbouring businesses, which is a plus.”

Councillor Lawrence Lee said although he supports first reading of the bylaw, he doesn’t think the proposed site for the temporary warming centre is the right one.

“It is the wrong site to have this type of service in our community given the multitude of feedback I received from the community and from downtown businesses,” he said. “We’ll hear more about this from the public during the public hearing, but we do need to make the right decisions for Red Deer, even though they are temporary.”

It is anticipated the centre will operate from approximately Nov. 1st to March 31st.

“We continue to work with other community agencies and stakeholders to help our vulnerable populations where gaps in services exist,” said Sarah Cockerill, director of community services. “We’ve identified a temporary site that allows individuals who are homeless to warm up during the daytime in the coldest months of the year while also connecting with trained staff to receive referrals to other health and housing supports already available. We are currently working through the procurement processes to choose a contracted agency to run the warming centre.”

At the next council meeting on Aug. 17th, a public hearing will be held, and second and third reading must pass before the amendment is approved. Once all the planning stages are complete, the City will work with a contracted agency to operate the daytime warming centre.