Monday, January 30, 2023

Council pauses work on proposed interim sober shelter, investigates other locations

The proposed interim sober shelter at the Civic Centre curling rink is uncertain after city council voted to rescind a previous motion directing administration to apply for a development approval.

City staff presented council with a report on public consultation on the proposed shelter Nov 29 and councillor Ryan Parker brought forward the motion to stop the process and consider alternate locations. He said he believes some people were left out of the consultation process and he wants the city to investigate more options before approving the shelter.

“Obviously the issue isn’t there happening right now, but the point is there is still a concerning issue and there are people at risk in our community, we know that loud and clear,” Parker said. “All I am asking is stop this process and that is the key word, by voting for this you are stopping that process, you are asking your provincial partners to work with us to help find the appropriate location and we heard how much it is going to cost over there. If we are going to do this, let’s do this right.”

City staff pointed outthe shelter could not be operational until late next year, but Carly Kleisinger, chief of staff to the city manager, said this resolution will delay it. Her report noted staff would have applied for a development permit on behalf of a shelter operator in the coming weeks, had council not rescinded the motion from the Aug. 9 meeting. 

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Mike Fox, director of community services, said the province has committed to providing a shelter operator when the city has a location ready. The Civic Centre would need renovations to get to that point. 

“Preliminary desktop estimates for upgrades at the Civic Centre to accommodate the interim sober shelter range from $500,000 to $750,000. It is not currently known if the city, province or provincially chosen operator would be responsible for these costs,” Kleisinger said. 

Mayor Blaine Hyggen said it was concerning how many unknowns there were regarding the shelter and supported looking at alternate locations. ”We have already heard that nothing would get happening until the end of next year so this isn’t going to be an immediate fix for those that are most vulnerable in our community and that are out in the cold at this moment, we have other solutions for that at the moment,” he said.

Administration will come back to a cultural and social standing policy committee with findings on the proposed site and alternatives. The motion to rescind was carried unanimously.

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