May 30th, 2024

City not responsible for warming centre closure – Sik-Ooh-Kotoki transitioning clients to Alpha House

By Trevor Busch - Lethbridge Herald on January 7, 2022.


Allegations circulating in the community that the City of Lethbridge is behind shutting down an emergency warming centre at the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society are false, said City officials on Thursday.
On Wednesday, a social media post which appeared to be associated with the SAGE Clan had suggested the City of Lethbridge was responsible for closing down the emergency warming centre, something Mayor Blaine Hyggen said was a miscommunication.
“The SAGE Clan is a much needed resource in our city, and we really appreciate the work they do. We are reaching out to see where the comments originated from… but the City did not close down close down the warming centre at the Friendship Centre,” said Hyggen speaking to media on Thursday. “We are working with them to make sure that they are successful, but we are reaching out to the SAGE Clan to make sure that we understand their concerns, and making sure in future that we don’t have these kinds of miscommunications.”
According to information released by the City, the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society (1709 2 Ave S.) has made the decision to transition clients to the Alpha House Shelter, which has the capacity and resources to support these individuals.
“Council has received numerous emails, phone calls, have seen some of the information that has been out on social media, and we just want to make sure that we touch base with the community,” said Hyggen. “We care – we care a lot – and we know that when it gets to these very cold temperatures we want to make sure that those most vulnerable in our community are taken care of. I know that’s the same case with the citizens of Lethbridge, who want to make sure that we’re doing all that we can to support those in need.”
The Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society opened its facility as an emergency warming centre to support unsheltered clients during the recent cold snap.
“There’s a lot of different support services out there… multiple different locations that can get those individuals in touch with the support services that they need,” said Hyggen. “Again, it’s important that it’s not funded from the city; this is – our shelter in particular – is funded by the provincial government, and we’ll do all we can to advocate for success there, because it’s important that we have those that are needing the services and that they’re available.”
The City of Lethbridge is coordinating with partners including the Diversion Outreach Team (DOT), Alpha House and the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society to ensure a seamless transition process and ensure all vulnerable populations are adequately supported.
“Alpha House has always been supportive of unhoused individuals having options in terms of the services they are able to access, particularly in this cold weather and we appreciate all the work that has been done over the past few weeks to make that happen,” said Kathy Christiansen, executive director of the Alpha House Society, in a press release. “We will continue to work with our partners in the sector to ensure those that need shelter are able to access it. Demand at the Shelter has been high but we have not turned anyone away and we will continue to ensure anyone who wants to stay is able to safely do so.”
Alpha House operates a year-round provincially-funded shelter with capacity to accommodate all unhoused clients, including those with complex needs and those who have tested positive for COVID.
Although the funding and operations of the Alpha House Shelter and the temporary warming centre are not within the jurisdiction of the City of Lethbridge, the City is continuing to work with partners to identify ways to improve the coordination of services.
“The city’s role in warming shelters, and other shelters, any type of facility is we coordinate, convene and facilitate conversations to make sure that our residents, and the vulnerable population have resources needed to stay warm, stay out of the elements, and make sure that there is the necessary services for them in these environments,” said Mike Fox, director of community services.
The warming centre was to be open for a two week period, said Fox, and is set to close on Tuesday, January 11.
“So what we did is we met with all of the partners to make sure we had a plan in place, so as it transitions and starts to close down – because they are only open until Tuesday – to make sure the necessary resources, to make sure people are able to find warming centres, being able to find shelter space, are available.”
Fox was unwilling to comment regarding an allegation a sexual assault may have factored into the decision to shut down the facility.
“I don’t believe it’s our place to make a formal comment on that, we don’t know the behaviours. Again we facilitate and make sure that everybody is being looked after, but I can’t comment on any of the activities that have happened at Alpha House or the Friendship Society.”
Hyggen said there is a space available in Lethbridge for any vulnerable resident that needs one.
“Anybody that wants to have a space, that space is available in our community.”

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Citi Zen

Yet again, the Lethbridge taxpayer will ultimately pick up the tab for this. Yawn……


Oh shut up, go back to Europe.

Citi Zen

Hit a nerve, did I?

Dennis Bremner

Take a walk down to the Friendship Center. Apparently the group who would not pay attention to the rules at Alpha House and Park and Ride and ended up at the Friendship Center, ended with the building suffering major internal damages including broken toilets. Hence the reason they closed the Building.