April 23rd, 2024

Council debates Mustard Seed shelter proposal


By Lethbridge Herald on March 24, 2021.

Members of the public wait their turn to present at the public hearing Tuesday on the proposed Mustard Seed Sober Shelter. Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski
Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
Lethbridge city council defeated the rezoning motion by a vote of 7-2 late Tuesday night at a public hearing on the proposed Mustard Seed Sober Shelter site at 110 13th Street South, as proceedings stretched far into the evening with 30 presenters speaking for and against the proposed rezoning which would allow the site to be established in the community.
Coun. Belinda Crowson asked the question which was on many of the presenters’ minds: Was this the right place for it?
According to Byron Bradley, spokesperson for the charitable organization which has been serving the poor in various communities for 35 years, the answer was “yes,” even with several business owners in the Upper Eastside opposed to its establishment.
Bradley said his organization had met with over 100 of them leading up to the public hearing, and had gotten good feedback.
“We have taken those conversations to heart, and that feedback to heart,” he stated. “One of the main things is this shelter would be in a central location that would be accessible to our most vulnerable citizens in the city of Lethbridge.
“It is not going to be easy and perfect, but we are committed,” he later added. “We just want permission to come help people. Your people. The people of your community. It’s tough work and it is often not popular work to care for people. But these are citizens of this community who need a place of refuge.”
While applauding the organization’s ideals, not all in the gallery, or watching from home on YouTube, were convinced.
“I think Mr. Bradley has given a fantastic speech,” said one local commercial property owner Ed Nestrovich who presented in person to council on the problems he already has with vagrancy near his building. “If everything works the way he is saying, I’m thumbs up. But we all know it doesn’t happen that way.”
Another local business owner, Diane Horvath, challenged city council’s entire process leading into the public hearing, and accused city staff of sidestepping this by seeking Direct Control over the site so the public will have no chance of appeal.
“At the end of the day once everyone has spoken,” she said, “you will have to ask yourself two simple questions: Is this property unquestionably appropriate for what is being proposed? Do you have enough information to answer that question? If you cannot answer it, ‘Yes,” emphatically without a single lingering doubt, or a maybe– you should vote ‘No.'”
Earl’s owner Richard Daley, whose business is adjacent across the street from the proposed site, said he had no doubt should council approve this rezoning it would likely end his business. But he saved his greatest criticism for the Mustard Seed itself.
“I have zero problem with the Mustard Seed,” he stated. “I have zero problems with the work you wish to do,” turning and looking directly at Bradley. “That you may be able to do. I have every problem with the fact your strategic plan is: ‘the site is available.'”
Among the group of presenters on Tuesday the Mustard Seed also had its supporters, particularly from local evangelical and faith communities who work regularly with the city’s homeless.
Geoff Heth, lead pastor of the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge, said it was obvious the city needed a new sober shelter with the current non-sober shelter run by Alpha House 117 per cent over capacity. He also praised the Mustard Seed, and its proven work with the poor over the past 35 years.
Using the metaphor of a forest where all the tree roots, healthy and unhealthy alike, are interconnected, and where nutrients are shared, he said the proposed Mustard Seed sober shelter was a way for those who are healthy in our city to send “nutrients to those in need” to “hope on behalf of others.”
“As a society we have a responsibility to the vulnerable and marginalized among us,” Heth stated. “Those who need a hand up in their journey of life.
“We are thrilled they are seeking to be part of a solution in our city,” he added. “They bring experience and a proven track record in being a safe haven for those who need that so badly.”
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UncleBuck

Good they defeated it. Not because the people on the street don’t need help, but because organizations who claim to “help the homeless” are more often about making money off of them.

Jason Nixon the UCP MLA has been involved in that racket for years.

Same thing with streets alive. They make their clients sign papers stating that if the client dies on the street, then the client’s entire estate is transferred over to streets alive. They’ve made a pretty penny on homeless people.

In addendum, the mustard seed basically plans to be useless. They’ll only help the “sober” people, while meanwhile plenty of housed people in this city are using and selling meth and fentanyl. They just get to use their drugs in restaurants (alcohol) and their homes. To think hard drug use is only relegated to people on the street is bad science. If the mustard seed only seeks to serve “sober” people they’re outright saying they won’t help the majority of the people out there, as they are drug users.

So why even bother to begin with? Government dollars is why. Gotta keep the gravy train flowing and line those pockets while the homeless stay homeless.

“Charity creates a multitude of sins.” -Oscar Wilde

Last edited 3 years ago by UncleBuck
chuck54l

I’m not sure where you get your information but your comments are unfounded and display a distinct lack of understanding of the problem, the agencies, and how they operate.

Instead of spouting unfounded BS why don’t you check your facts?

Dennis Bremner

If a very large house comes for sale Near a Councilors Home can we assume this Council would entertain a do-gooder group of non taxpayers, because the “property is available”? I would doubt it!
At what point does this City get a Council that produces its own plan that includes ByLaws and a specific Area for these types of services?
Its far easier to propose a New Bus/Garbage Truck Maintenance facility and then get funding to turn the old behemouth into a Residence for the Homeless, or the same for the multitude of double wides that appear to be City Utilities offices. This Council appears to be able to spend money endlessly but they seem not to understand that they do have the power to ZONE and stop the unfair stress this puts on homeowners and businesses alike.
Why can’t we get a Council that is pro-active and plan for future applications and reserve a specific area through zoning that will allow these services? The space west of Stafford, north of Crowsnest and South of 5th North has already been devastated business wise and depressed property values. Its like the Council wants the fungus to spread wherever the next Non Profit finds an empty building? Why, week after week, they sit back and watch different areas of this city get stressed out because some other Bible Punching Money Grabbing “Non-profit” who pays no taxes and lives off the teat of the Government and the Community decides another building is free in X Area, so lets setup there!!
I am glad an election is coming because this group of Councilors want others to solve “THEIR/OUR problem” and the plan is, whatever building is for sale is the strategy of the day!

buckwheat

Couldn’t have said it better myself. There were several presenters from the Bible crowd. One from the E free where they have the land and services available to set up their sharing and caring addiction services in the name of God, in conjunction with the Seed, they have much in common. Another “promoter” lives approx 6 km from the rejected site. Hard to believe the coulee view would be affected. In other words, promoting with no real skin in the game. Unlike R. Daley at Earl’s they won’t have the routine of needles, feces, car break ins to deal with. Such as compassion for them, is easy.

knowlton

““Geoff Heth, lead pastor of the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge, said it was obvious the city needed a new sober shelter with the current non-sober shelter run by Alpha House 117 per cent over capacity.””

Geoff, why haven’t you offered to have a sober shelter on the E-Free property? Far from the non-sober downtown! Your church property appears to have a ton of space… can I guess you’d provide the same answer as these concerned business owners?

knowlton

‘“Same thing with streets alive. They make their clients sign papers stating that if the client dies on the street, then the client’s entire estate is transferred over to streets alive. They’ve made a pretty penny on homeless people.’”

Wow.. that’s interesting! I know a Streets Alive client with assets in the 6 figures.. although I’m sure most barely have $6 to their name.

If that’s true, then I’m in the wrong business!!

chuck54l

The comment about Streets Alive is Total BS. Of course it’s easier to swallow this drivel the to check out the facts.