March 6th, 2021

Proposed sober site raises concerns


By Lethbridge Herald on February 19, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski The site of proposed new Mustard Seed sober shelter on 13 Street South. Some local business owners have concerns with the location.

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
A group of business owners are expressing their concerns with a proposed new emergency sober shelter at the old Western One building at 110 13th Street South.
“This business community on the upper eastside over the last couple of years has gone through the Supervised Consumption Site, and the amount of traffic of at-risk individuals have gone through that business community,” says Richard Daley, owner of Earl’s Lethbridge and a member of the group.
“In our particular case, we have had panhandling at the front door in the parking lot, we have had the use of washrooms (from people off the street), the typical needle and other drug debris, bodily fluids outside, drug consumption in our washrooms, and that is with an (SCS) that was probably 1,000 metres from our location. The logic would tell us if we bring that at-risk group within 200 metres of our facility that those same issues and problems will be there, and probably be greatly exemplified.”
Daley acknowledges there is a need in the community to bring resources online to help Lethbridge’s homeless community, but does not feel the Western One site is the proper location.
“I believe there is a solution,” he says.
“I believe the solution began to be adopted, from my understanding, many years ago when under the guidance of Mayor Carpenter a directive was more or less put in place that an area known as city centre north is an area where there is no residential of any nature …
“The City actually controls the vast majority of that plot of land, and therefore would have a greater degree of control in terms of access and what takes place. The facilities are already there.”
“If we are really serious about dealing with this problem then you need all the facilities, similar to a hospital, all in one site,” Daley adds. “You have everything centralized so you use all of your resources in a concise, direct and well-thought out manner. To put another shelter on the other side of the downtown area, that’s not a well-thought out strategy.”
Daley says he also has problems with the way the organization proposing to open the site, The Mustard Seed, has consulted with local business owners.
“I have a real problem with the fact The Mustard Seed’s representatives entered my business, and gave us a glossy piece of paper that indicated they were proposing a sober shelter,” he explains. “At no point in time did they acknowledge to us that the site was also going to be a soup kitchen, a food bank, a resource centre, a drop-in centre … It is my strong belief The Mustard Seed, for their intentions, is not being completely honest.”
Mustard Seed managing director for Southern Alberta and Lethbridge, Byron Bradley, says his organization has been meeting with local businesses in the area for the past two months, including Earl’s, and has been explaining their plans openly and transparently to everyone they meet with.
“We are not opening up a food bank,” he states. “This a 24/7 sober shelter that will serve meals. We have been very clear and very honest with the community about merging with the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen– that has been out there for quite some time.”
Bradley says while he has not met directly with Earl’s owner Richard Daley yet, having instead spoken with his manager Ryan Daley — he is more than willing to meet with the family again, and any other business owners in the group, to explain what his organization hopes to do at the proposed shelter. He characterizes the meetings he has had with business owners over the past two months as largely “positive” overall.
“We are receiving actually a fairly open-minded conversation overall,” he explains. “There are some who ask some hard questions and are definitely anxious, which is understandable from the history in the community, but people are generally open-minded and optimistic, I have found.”
Bradley says his organization is responding to a recognized need in the community by opening the proposed sober shelter in Lethbridge.
“Lethbridge has, right now, the highest (shelter usage) numbers in the entire province,” Bradley explains. “We are seeing numbers across the province in some cities stabilize, but in most cities the numbers are actually going down. Lethbridge is the only shelter where the numbers are continually going up — way above capacity — over 180 per cent capacity. The City of Lethbridge should be very concerned for its vulnerable citizens. They do not have the space required, and the most vulnerable are crammed in like a can of sardines.
“And if someone is not using substances, or is trying to fight for sobriety, there is not a place to go for that day or night. That’s what The Mustard Seed wants to bring: a place to be day and night, and a place of refuge and safety.”
Daley says he has no argument with the fact these services are needed in the community. It is the proposed location he, and other members of his business group, object to.
“We all understand and agree there is a need,” Daley states. “We have social issues, and as a community and business community we need to address those. That is the first given: there is a problem, there is a need, and it needs to be addressed. Where we have an issue is in the methodology and the strategic thinking on how to address it.
“In this case, we see no methodology and we see no strategic thinking. We know, for instance, The Mustard Seed’s original (proposed) site was the old Average Joe’s restaurant and bar in downtown Lethbridge, which was a permitted, designated use within the bylaws, and that was quashed. We see the only reason this site has been chosen is that it is available. ’It’s available’ is not a strategic plan to deal with an incredibly large social issue. ’It’s available’ is a complete and total lack of a plan.”
Daley says as this rezoning application process goes forward he hopes city council remembers the taxpayers they were elected to serve when making their considerations.
“We as a small business community,” he states, “and particularly the small businesses on Mayor Magrath as well as on the upper eastside, are in an absolute struggle for our very existence because of the pandemic and the economic conditions we have been forcibly put into. We need government to do what is possible to help guide the survival of the business community and the tax base in the community. Not to go out there helter skelter and throw major obstacles with no strategic plan in our face.”

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Dennis Bremner

This cities management insists it is concerned for the homeless yet, as Mr. Daley has outlined, hopes from day to day that someone like the Mustard Seed shows up and removes the burden of strategic planning?
The strategy appears to be one of a Circus where the arcade visitor helter skelter throws a dart into a wall of balloons hoping he will hit one. So you get the SCS placement which was promised by Manning and Spearman, to homogenously live in Nirvana with Lethbridge. Too the purchase of the Ramada (throw another dart) , then the Western One Building (another dart) and meanwhile SAAMIS building (another dart) is introduced for other efforts?
It makes a sane person wonder if Councils intent was to ensure that no child in Lethbridge “will ever own a bicycle again”, or at best a short while before its stolen?
This is not a strategy, its an arcade game with a DoGooder holding a dart! Why Council cannot sit down and come up with a “way ahead” I have really no idea, honestly, it truly baffles me!
If the initial building blocks of a strategy were not already in place, I could see the need for the first dart at balloon but that is not what we have here. We have a Soup Kitchen that already services the people that “supposedly” this city is concerned about. How hard is it to then designate the surrounding area as to where you want the remainder of services and buy/expropriate etc what you do not already own?
If this city truly believed in what it hopes others will do for it, why has the city not planned for another building for the bus repair facility? The property, and buildings would be more than enough to satisfy the entire demand for support, but instead Council sits back and silently hopes that the next group of DoGooders in this “Circus Dart Arcade” squeak by in their next application, so they do not have to THINK!
Each time a new dart is thrown, another group of p*ssed off Business owners rightfully rears up. The more darts thrown the more people get p*ssed off with the lack of a real strategy that is occurring in this city.
Most Lethbridge Residents do not understand why this Council seems to be reluctant to designate the area around the Soup kitchen as “the area”. They would prefer Mustard Seed and others to throw a Dart, and have the Mustard Seed wear the brunt of the application wrath then stand up and say ENOUGH WITH THE DART THROWING!
Council is also well aware of the fact that if Lethbridge goes down this road of offering food/shelter/counciling etc etc to the homeless that it will suddenly be infiltrated by more people from the surrounding community. Why, because those communities do not provide food/clothing/shelter/needles/ etc etc and we will have built the Nirvana of living for the Homeless, which is not the case elsewhere.
Council is well aware that if Mustard Seed or anyone else, sets up a facility for 180, then next year its 240 etc etc. Its easier to make a case to increase the size of a facility after its there and THEN devastate the area under the guise of “its already there” then it is to PLAN a STRATEGY before it all starts!
Daley and the rest of the business owners in that area are right, where is COUNCILS STRATEGY to solve the problem? Lets hear it, you have managed to avoid responsibility for this mess for a very long time and it would appear you are more than willing to continue to be complacent and NOT proceed with the obvious for a reason, so LETS HEAR your reasons!
Did Council apply to Trudeaus Grant for Homeless Housing, or were you really really happy Mustard Seed did, so you wouldn’t have too, no matter where the facility ended up?
P*ssing off 4 different areas of Lethbridge and entertaining more applications monthly just to p*ss off another area is not a strategy, its a cop out, its a clear shirking of YOUR responsibilities in what you say you are most concerned for, the homeless!
So for instance, humor me! Can you build a new Bus/Garbage Truck repair and storage facility elsewhere ? Can you purchase buildings adjacent the soup kitchen? What about your own Admin Offices in the same area as the Bus storage? Can you form a NON-PROFIT and seek funds to renovate these buildings. Can you cancel other projects to do so? Lethbridge residents have no idea how important the Homeless are to Council, you rant a lot but so far…nothing?
Are the homeless more important then the Japanese Garden Reno? Obviously not, right? So where are your priorities, where do homeless people fit in the Councils “ACTION SCHEDULE”, because I can assure you, most Lethbridge do not know where your priorities are and where Homeless fit, why? No Strategic Long term plan!
There is nothing wrong with letting Mustard Seed or others, run a “business”, in OUR buildings?
Perhaps, I can help, there is a thing called Rezoning and implementing a bylaw that allows these types of activities in a given area, and that area only. Then when someone wants to make $343,000 a year operating a NON-Profit they have to choose a building within the area Lethbridge has approved for those activities. That would restore some value to some of the buildings adjacent the Soup Kitchen because if they cannot find a building in the Soup kitchen area west of Stafford and north of Crowsnest and south of 5th North, then they aren’t going to play here! That would be a start?
Why that area? Well Soup Kitchen is there, companies have been screwed for some time that are adjacent the Soup Kitchen and the city/Groups can buy their buildings and keep everything in one area.
Will that make everyone happy? No, will the rest of Lethbridge kids get to keep their bicycles if you do it, YES! Will the Police be able to surveil the area better with everyone in the same area YES. Will this prevent people like Daley from being concerned for his livelihood now and in the future? ONE BIG FAT YES !
It really does not take that much thought! ReZone and Restrict and soon the price of a building that has been devastated by the addicts presence will be restored because all of the Non-Profit Groups who want to make $343,000 a year, will want to buy, or rent a building. If there are not many buildings due to Zoning, then prices rise. Its a win/win!
Perhaps this is a voting issue in the upcoming election because you certainly can see that your approach of allowing others to cherry pick their choices of areas just p*sses off more businesses, while you pretend you have no responsibility in this other than to give “Royal Ascent”!

Last edited 12 days ago by Dennis Bremner
Citi Zen

The Mustard Seed is not welcome in Lethbridge unless they have a plan in place to stop the influx of druggies, and to decrease the criminal activity caused by their clients.
There is already an SCS in Lethbridge, run by AHS. We dont need another needle distribution site.

biff

indeed, a sober site will require far more sober thought and planning. a complex issue, and very well attended to by the reporter, and mr daley of earl’s. mr daley nicely articulates the current issue that has been increasingly vexing the citizens and businesses of lethbridge: we have a fast growing issue with a poorly planned response. reference has been made to the area where the homeless exists, and of all the spaces noted in the city thus far, that area is the best place within city limits. of course, there will many residents that would no doubt like to see supports established outside the city altogether. given the massive open spaces between here and the mountains, perhaps something could be established elsewhere…i suppose what needs to be also considered is that, given it is likely a great majority of the homeless and near-hopelessly addicted people currently in lethbridge come from elsewhere, why is lethbridge the place where so much of the burden resides? how are we the magnet and epicenter? not to be cruel or indifferent, there is an adverse effect on the entire city, to businesses, to people, to property, to safety, to property values. in some ways, it is hard to sell lethrbidge as a place to live, or to retire to, when we are now more or less, more akin to the north battlefords of the country, rather than a lasalle, ontario, or even a medicine hat.

Dennis Bremner

When you have next too no services in the Blood Reserve, and a propensity for Religious types to save the addicts and homeless, there is a viable and real draw from the Reserve to Lethbridge. The more services you provide, the more that will exit the Reserve.
This is why the Council does not address the situation head on. They would prefer the same Religious types to solve the problem, or as a minimum reduce it. But, its only the naive’ that believe the homeless we have will be all we will EVER have!
So once you open the door too assistance and go “all in” then you can be assured we will be an “Urban Reserve”.
So the question becomes, if we are to be bombarded by Religious types wanting to set up shop from the Soup Kitchen to the Ramada to the Western One and the SAAMIS site. Whom should take the reins before we lose control of this? Without a Strategic Long Term Plan, it will be every “non-profit” that wants to make money from the addiction cycle. Given the applications so far, we would have to either steal bicycles for these people or lay on a Private Bus Service to get them to all these facilities! It makes no sense!

So, we refuse all requests until we have a Strategic Plan, that way, it puts pressure back on the people who insist “through rhetoric” that we must provide more services to the Homeless.
We should provide more to the “Homeless” but, Spearman and this Council would like to include Drug Addicts in the term “Homeless” so this creates a BIG problem for assistance!.
They are the elected officials of this city, they should be held accountable for the development of a solution! Even if this means a citizens group of BUSINESS OWNERS from various areas of the city (not the dogooders) is formed, to make recommendations to Council. Some one has to come up with “the Plan”. The Religious Groups will come in and fill in the blanks as the plan evolves.
If you want to preach from the pulpit of politics and say “something must be done as a caring politician” you better be prepared to back it up with sound thinking because the influx of “new homeless( read addicts)” will rise exponentially as assistance evolves! Have a plan in place for a “RESTRICTED build/ assistance area” so as not to interfere with the people that are paying for this city!

Last edited 13 days ago by Dennis Bremner
UncleBuck

There are a great many services on reserve directed to Blood Tribe members. It may be surprising to you to know that it hasn’t been the case that people are coming into lethbridge in order to get services, but, have been (particularly since the new shelter opened on the reserve) that people have been being shuttled OUT of lethbridge because they get little to no services here in town.

The service providers in lethbridge are simply making money off of the system, off of homelessness. One religious organization has literally made millions off of homelessness, and, they still ask you to “donate” and please think of the children. This blasphemous organization has social capital up the wazoo and is in my opinion extremely evil. Of the ~1700 different organizations in lethbridge that have homelessness as part of their mandate they all together rake in around $700,000,000.00 in taxpayer money.

Almost none of that money goes to help anyone on the streets. With that amount of money every single one of the ~400 or so chronically homeless people could be housed several times over.

That seven hundred million dollars goes to line the pockets of the “service providers” (white people) while the same homeless people (generally Indigenous) stay on the streets for 5, 10, 20, 30 years.

Homelessness is a big business in lethbridge, and you will notice that the loudest advocates with the most prominent voices are all out to make money off of it. Look into UCP MLA Jason Nixon and the Nixon family.

There’s more than one condiment out there that has made a whole lot of money off of the most vulnerable people.

This could all be well known, but given the Herald’s chronic lack of investigative reporting it has to come from those who see, see what I mean?

UncleBuck

In addendum, one fella I know has been a client of HomeBase for 8 years. HomeBase is the “housing first” agency in Lethbridge designed to house people experiencing homelessness. In thsat 8 years he has been a client he has yet to recieve any services from them.
Rest assured that funding DID go somewhere, but certainly, not to him.

Dennis Bremner

The propensity of most organizations, not all, but most is to setup a non-profit and keep their financials hidden from the public. They say its their right, well the right should be removed, period!
If you are not paying taxes, advertising you are an assistance agency, and must zero your books out at the end of the year, you would not last long if it was found that 20% went to your cause and 80% to your wallet.
This does not prevent you from having a “living wage” but it does prevent you from drawing $343,000 without others knowing that you are.
No idea how you can stand in front of a group of people and incite them to work for free, and then take away a bundle of cash for yourself, while at the same time pleading for people to donate to your cause. Greed is not exclusive to white people, just ask the “Chief” of a tribe of 220 that thinks he does a $1million worth of work a year. The rules have to change or you will get people who will take advantage ALL the time!

Last edited 12 days ago by Dennis Bremner
Dennis Bremner

Here is an example of others planning out Lethbridge for us. This is in the MedicineHat News. This informs groups like Moms Stop the Harm who have a new reason to shuttle people to Lethbridge if it comes about.
https://medicinehatnews.com/news/southern-alberta-news/2021/02/19/fresh-start-facility-vital-to-lethbridge-region/

Seth Anthony

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Last edited 10 days ago by Seth Anthony
Lethbridge Invisalign

my dentist clinic is located adjacent to this location, and while I don’t feel that it will have direct negative consequences on my business, I do agree that it will upon others. There is a definite need for these services, but the process needs to start by having expert municipal zoning and planning officials deciding upon locations, not uneducated on the issue or inexperienced elected officials. It is just not in their expertise.



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