Red Deer City Council will continue to explore site options with the intention to provide a new site recommendation to the Province of Alberta. The most recent site formally recommended by City Council and supported by the Province will not be the future location of the permanent shelter following negotiations with the property owner.
“We were hopeful that by this time we’d be moving forward on a site that we truly believe aligns with our vision of shelter services in Red Deer. We’re disappointed, but we also understand that sometimes things don’t go as planned and we’re ready to move forward,” said Mayor Ken Johnston. “This process has been a journey; one our community has been more than patient going along with us on. We understand this most recent bump is frustrating, but we will not give up until we have a solution that is right for our community.”
After going out to citizens, community partners and businesses, Red Deer City Council created site parameters in July 2022, which informed the site selection process. Some of the site parameters include distance and proximity to businesses and residential properties; access to services and supports; and distances and proximity to schools and amenities. These parameters for selecting a shelter site were based on extensive community consultation, which is contained in the “What We Heard” reports available through The City’s website at reddeer.ca/shelter.
Since January 2022, three sites have emerged as potential locations for the future shelter. 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, followed by support from the Province; however, failed land negotiations has now triggered another round of site selection. At this time, The City is not releasing the addresses of the recommended sites as we work to focus on next steps and respect the privacy of the private property/landowners today and going forward.
“We have and will continue to explore every option for the future permanent shelter in our community, and we do this with the intent to balance and ensure the needs of the entire community are considered,” said Mayor Johnston. “Red Deer, we heard you when you shared your thoughts on the shelter, and your voices will continue to guide the site selection process. I don’t know what area of our community the next site we recommend will be, but what I can tell you is that based on the parameters built with your voices as its guide, the downtown is not a preferred location.”
Council will go back to the original site evaluations provided by administration last summer, along with consideration of any new site opportunities that have come available in the last six months. Over the coming month, Council will consider sites that best meet the detailed analysis and work with the province to find a new location.
“We know there isn’t a perfect location that everyone will agree on – this comes with any project in a community. But we will do our best to find the right and best spot for shelter services in our community,” said Mayor Johnston. “We are going to continue to work with the Province on this project. The site we recommend needs to align with Council’s parameters, while being the right space for the services being provided.”
“Addressing challenges such as homelessness cannot be done without a collaborative approach with partners throughout all levels of government. I am grateful to see that approach from the municipal government of Red Deer, especially as they work hard in finding a new location for the homeless shelter. As we work together, we will be able to bring many voices to the table to make these important decisions. It is imperative to recognize the consequences these decisions can have for a community if not made carefully. Additionally, we must realize the needs of those who rely on shelter spaces for warmth throughout the winters in Alberta. Our government will continue to work hard in balancing the needs of all Albertans as we work together with our municipal partners,” said Jeremy Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services
With the delays in site selection, The City will begin having conversations about the continued operations of temporary shelter services in our city. Currently, the temporary shelter is permitted to operate at the Cannery Row building (5239 53 Avenue) site until February 1, 2024.
For more information on the shelter site selection process, visit www.reddeer.ca/shelter.