Following a report on the housing and homelessness crisis Red Deer is facing, Council will take the next steps to implementing a diversion plan and securing a temporary solution while the permanent emergency housing site is being built.
“Our primary goal is to end homelessness in our community, and there are a lot of partners required to make that happen. Today, we directed administration to develop a diversion plan to reduce the overall number of people accessing emergency housing services,” Said Mayor Ken Johnston “We are working closely with the Province to get shovels in the ground next Spring to begin construction of a permanent emergency housing site in our community that will not only provide a shelter for those in need, but the resources to get them to a place where they can be housed permanently.”
The City works in partnership with community and government partners to build and implement a responsive, sustainable and well-performing housing and homelessness response that is informed by evidence-based research and best practice. Since given direction from Council to develop a list of site purchase options for a temporary site, great efforts have been made to try and find an alternative site involving commercial realtors and requests for proposals. The list of sites was narrowed from more than 80 possibilities and it resulted in only one viable property: Cannery Row. These decisions will help the community to prioritize permanent shelter
Among the decisions today, Council approved two key recommendations as a step towards solving the emergency housing crisis in Red Deer:
- Directed administration to develop a diversion plan to reduce the overall number of people accessing emergency housing services, in alignment with the Community Housing & Homelessness Integrated Plan (CHHIP).
- Direction to bring forward a Land Use Bylaw Amendment to provide temporary emergency housing service at the Cannery Row site for two years for Council’s consideration within three weeks. A date was set for consideration of First Reading on December 6.
“Although the subject of temporary emergency housing has been very public in our community for more than a year, members of Council will go into the Public Hearing with an open mind, and we hope that members of our community and businesses will do the same,” said Mayor Johnston. “In our experience, when considering any amendments to our Land Use Bylaw, the public hearing process can be both emotionally and mentally draining. We will be hearing both support and opposition with personal and professional experiences, and Council will take every piece of the equation into consideration when making our decision.”
The temporary emergency housing site at Cannery Row is currently able to operate following an Emergency Order put in place following the declaration of the State of Local Emergency (SOLE), which was renewed until February 15. Once the SOLE expires or is rescinded, the ability to operate at Cannery Row will also expire, leaving a gap in services for people experiencing homelessness during the winter months if an amendment to the LUB is not approved.
In 2019, the Provincial government announced $7 million to fund a permanent shelter in Red Deer. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by The City and the Province in November 2020 that outlines mutual intentions for a quality, purpose-built shelter. The location of the permanent site has not been determined.
For background information on the temporary emergency housing site, visit www.reddeer.ca/emergencyhousing.
For more information, please contact:
The City of Red Deer