June 16th, 2024

City council votes to rescind proposed sober shelter decision

By Lethbridge Herald on November 30, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Council on Tuesday unanimously rescinded its Aug. 9 motion calling on administration to apply for development approval for a sober shelter at the Civic Centre.

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

A proposal to use the old Civic Centre curling rink as a sober shelter has been put on ice with city council directing administration to revisit the issue.

Council on Tuesday unanimously rescinded its Aug. 9 motion calling on administration to apply for development approval for a sober shelter at the Civic Centre. Instead it is now asking administration to look at other potential sites as well as the Civic Centre and report back to the Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee. Council also directed the mayor to write a letter to the province requesting support for funding opportunities and site selections.

The Aug. 9 decision had been approved by a 6-2 margin.

In a report accepted as information Tuesday that was presented by Chief of Staff Carly Kleisinger, council heard the earliest the Civic Centre likely could have been made ready for shelter use would have been the fall of 2023.

The report included results from open house discussions and an online survey conducted by the City to get public feedback on the suggested location which was recommended by city council in a 6-2 vote on Aug. 9 calling on administration to apply for development approval for a sober shelter at the Civic Centre.

When asked by councillor John Middleton-Hope how many residents showed support for the proposed location, Kaitlin Barr of the Communication and Engagement department responded that the engagement process wasn’t designed to ascertain that.

Concerns arose during discussions about the how the Civic Centre building fits in with plans for the Civic Commons with mayor Blaine Hyggen asking if council would be investing  money  for a couple of years into a property that would be at some point demolished.

Kleisinger told council the building – which includes an operational ice rink – is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2030.

“The current approach is that we would be keeping Civic Ice Centre in use until the next arena is constructed. So currently that would be an unfunded project in the CIP to start in 2027 that would be completed around 2029. So Civic would then be decommissioned in 2030. There’s no indication right now of structural issues. The life expectancy is dependent upon community need for usage,” Kleisinger responded.

Deputy mayor Ryan Parker, who made the motion to rescind the Aug. 9 decision, told council it’s important to have a thorough conversation about the location.

“It’s important that we have a thorough conversation and debate regarding this because as most people know, this was a pretty big issue in August, if not the months leading up to the decision council made in August,” Parker he said.

“Obviously, the issue isn’t there happening right now” but there are people still at risk in the city, Parker said.

Parker said the consultation process had value because “what we heard is pros and cons to the shelter location. There wasn’t a matter of a majority of people saying we don’t want it there and all that. But what we did is we had a greater community conversation when we had those open houses regarding the issue itself, people at risk, the shelter, addictions and so it became a really wholesome conversation and I think it was encapsulated in the report,” added the deputy mayor.

“But I do believe that some people have been left out of the process who want to be able to speak in regards to that. I don’t think it was on purpose but there’s a lot of people that had a lot of valid points, not only In regards to not only the possible shelter but the whole issue of shelter in general in our community and we go about it as a community,” said Parker.

He said by voting to rescind the motion, council is asking provincial partners to work with the City to help find the appropriate location.

“If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right,” he added.

Parker said people using tents at the site are still at risk and a sense of urgency still exists but council needs to go back to the drawing board and look at all sites.

“Let’s find an appropriate location.”

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Dennis Bremner

There seems to be some disorganized organization occurring in this process. We seem to be allowing players to progress with “their part” and as they do, it continues to firm up the “nonprofit choice for all of this, which is downtown”?
So through administrative creep, we slowly move to reinforcing downtown as the final resting point of this fiasco without actually admitting that “creep” is what is happening.
So, by default, the non move of the wet shelter secures/threatens the downtown. That then allows nonprofits to start to setup in 12A,B,C streets which then reinforces the choice of the shelter where it is.
Now, the next pawn is moved strategically. Lethbridge Housing suggests Direct Control should be used to change the designation of two buildings at opposite ends of what is perceived to be the “Downtown”. Halmrest Seniors Residence on Stafford/6Ave South and Castle Apartments at the Corner of Scenic Drive and 3rd Ave South. Each one of these moves appears in isolation to be a non-move. But, collectively they continue to reinforce the SSIGs ONLY study as to where the best place should be. Which coincidentally is 100% supported by CSD.
I note council is motivated to restudy the sober shelter and has decided at this point to drop the Civic Center. Discussions ensue, however I cannot get over the fact that at no time have I ever heard from Council what the assessed damage will be, and what businesses, residents will be damaged. Why? Is it because a “decision” has not been made yet? I could see that as being possible but how do you make a decision without a damage assessment from 3 or 4 different scenarios? But, SSIG never handed you 3 or 4 scenario’s did they?
Why does it appear we have the cart before the horse. We are proceeding down this road with bylaw creep where everything points to downtown and no one is willing to utter the words? Terms like some services can be located out of town, or on the outskirts, when the anchor, (wet facility) is specifically being NOT MENTIONED as being “one of those services”.
If we compare to the Titanic which seems to be used a lot, Titanic is the Downtown ,the Wet Shelter is the Iceberg, and the deck chairs are what we are spending all our time on. I have to ask, why? If the Iceberg was not there the Titanic would not go down….pretty simple, right?
If a decision is made on the placement of the Wet Shelter, then everything changes significantly. Or we continue to play this game of watching people clandestinely moving deck chairs in the hopes that the “non profits master plan” can be executed before the ship goes down.
So I just have to ask.

“Where is the downtown impact assessment from which these decisions/non decisions are being made? It would seem CSD and Mr. Fox/ Province/nonprofits have a clear appreciation of where they want things to go so why is their not a discussion paper that clearly shows the businesses that will be impacted, the residents impacted, and what is going to be done to assist them? Is the intent just to surprise the individuals by slamming into the iceberg leaving them to try to find their own life jacket and boat?”

Perhaps the conclusions are being pushed on council, perhaps there are groups putting you in a position that is untenable but forced? Perhaps because no one seems to want to get involved other then those that profit from this fiasco, you are being handed a bill of goods ?
Where are the discussions that ask the Residents of this City, what they want and how to lessen the impact on Downtown businesses and residents and still maintain a vibrant downtown?
It would seem to me that pumping millions into the beautification of our downtown is like putting a new coat of paint on the Titanic when you have no intention whatsoever of moving the iceberg!

Harmless as this may appear, Lethbridge Housing wanting Direct Control application is a clear indication that they know proceeding with a bylaw change without direct control would meet significant resistance. Hence the reason I believe the 13th meeting is lip service to a predetermined change.
Why is this an important issue? Changing the designation creates more creep. So if things get far worse in the surrounding areas of these establishments, for instance, the property next door, could be then changed using Direct Control. The justification is the property you are now requesting direct control for. So as an exaggerated attempt of explanation. Halmrast Manor becomes a ghetto, then theoretically one could rezone the Gas Station using Direct Control because the “Area” is being destroyed by the presence of Halmrast.
Speaking of Halmrast, this was/is a Senior’s residence I believe. The zoning change does not change the X number of units, it changes the entire building so are you going to help Seniors relocate that are not a Drug Addict, are not an Alcoholic or are not Dry so they can get an apartment only to start using again. Or has Lethbridge Housing convinced the city that the “Senior’s in the building will not be mugged, or beaten for any money they are carrying?
This once again shows where the nonprofits concern for security of the “Homeless” supercedes the security of either Senior’s or others in Lethbridge!
“Let me be more specific. SSIG contracted to a consultant to draft a report on how to implement their Community Care Campus. In that report it specifically stated that their should be only one entrance and one exit from the “Campus” and that their should be 24 hour security employed to ensure people would not be harmed.” Coincidentally my submission also had one entrance and exit and I was abruptly told by the Co Chair of Reconciliation Lethbridge that I was creating a Compound ! Go figure? The interesting thing about the Consultants ($10,000) study was there was no indication of how to create security once the same people left the Campus?
So the consultants suggested its a sh*tshow about to happen yet, the very same people may now be living next door to a terrified senior? At what point do people start to get a clue? The plan seems to look after the Addict extremely well keeping him/her as safe as possible. The Ratepayers security is met with higher taxes and more police who still will not be able to “get to” petty theft complaints because they are too busy responding to those causing the trouble for others.
Is Lethbridge Housing going to create two entrances and elevators so that “Homeless” can access one door, and Seniors or other renters access a different door with security?
Their is a hidden agenda here, and no one seems to know whom is driving it. My opinion is that its not Council and Mayor.
Need I remind you? https://lethccc.com/impact.html
Do you see anything left of our downtown when the total “homeless” (love that BS term) exceeds 900?
Do you see Lethbridge Housing needing more multiple unit buildings in the future where they somehow end up with “homeless” in a building and then suddenly suggest Direct Control for that building as well because after all, its already housing the homeless, right? …more and more “administrative creep”. Nonprofit? okay dokay
I am sure if Shannon Phillips mother was in Halmrest Senior Residence, this would never be tolerated and action would be immediate! Perhaps Shannon’s Mother could come out and support the Senior’s, after all they must be living in fear there home will become another crime scene, at this point?
Signed- Doomsday Dennis
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Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner

Lethbridge administration is so predictable in this dance of if/ whether/how/or when help can been offered to those in such dire need of shelter and support. The windbag who goes on and on here in this forum in a long winded comment does little to hide their disdain for those who are in need. May other citizens who are educated and compassionate blow their horn louder to drown out such racism and hatred and amplify hope and help. Lethbridge can do better and bring people in from the cold


By contrast: this happened in Edmonton yesterday’
Edmonton city council unanimously approved spending $7.5 million from current reserves to create more emergency shelter spaces this winter.
Administration had proposed using $7.5 million from the Financial Stabilization Reserve for the Jasper Place Wellness Centre to operate 209 new shelter spaces for six months in a former hotel at 155 Street and Stony Plain Road. Expected to open in about four weeks, the project will increase the number of shelter spaces in the city to 1,281 for the winter.
Just moments before the vote, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he had received confirmation that another person had died outside in the cold earlier in the day. “This is a crisis that we’re facing,” he said, mentioning several other deaths in the past few weeks. “All of them are preventable deaths.

Dennis Bremner

Obviously the narrative was so long you decided not to read it. I am all for offering support to Drug Addicts and the Homeless. What I am not for is destroying ones society because of it. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. I believe AHS should handle the mentally challenged, the Police and Judicial System should handle the criminals and the City should handle the Homeless. Calling Criminals and Addicts “homeless” is a marketing campaign by nonprofits that you are obviously buying into. They are separate groups. https://lethccc.com Placing a dry shelter in a known zone of Drug consumption is another wonderful plan that was concocted at the last moment by someone who obviously sees no connection? Comparing Edmonton which covers 100sqkms to Lethbridge that covers 8sq kms and not realizing that the impact on Lethbridge will be far more with far less users,is obviously a failure of yours.
lortho, I would say you do not own any real estate downtown, you do not employ people in a business where you must take responsibility for your employees welfare. So it is easy to spot people on this forum that do not care about the downtown, the businesses and the residents.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner

Any type of shelter, sober or not attracts crime, anti-social behaviours and undesirables hanging around the area.
To put a SOBER shelter in a area already over-run with addicts, drug dealers, hookers, crime and gangs is only going to make it difficult for the those trying to remain sober. It is like putting an alcoholic into a bar for hours everyday!
Why can you not see this? A sober shelter should be far away from the downtown and other shelter! It should be out by Costco, or the North End of town where there are big box stores they could find work at and not have to travel far, getting them back into a healthy lifestyle!
Too much money is wasted on ineffective treatment programs that are short-term and have high failure rates . . . causing more to end up back on the streets.
Efffective treatment programs should be followed through under a half way house type plan with volunteer ‘probation officers’ or ‘coaches’ to help them during the rough periods they face for several months after treatment.
We are burning up our tax dollars on non-profits and treatment programs that fail and we need to focus on anti-drug policies, firm policing and effective treatment, increasing our drug courts and enforcing existing laws where someone is a threat to themselves and others . . . drug courts prevent criminal charges hanging over a person for life or until they are pardoned.
Tough love . . . this has been an addiction tool for decades and we need to bring it back and into our judicial and penal systems to stop this needless loss of life and high cost to society!
BC is the perfect example of how harm reduction and all the non-profits have failed! 20 years and every year there are increases in fatal overdoses, number of addicts, crime and homeless . . . it is a failure!
BC is losing almost 200 lives per month from overdoses! Yet they just will not learn and now want to give out free prescription opioids to everyone . . . prescription opioids are what has been killing many . . . they are braindead!
I have lost friends in this city that got addicted to prescribed opioids for pain from injury or disease and addicts do not want just that high . . . they want the bigger buzz that takes them into another realm!
The return of DON’T DO DRUGS and law enforcement is needed, but with this PM, who appears to want to see us all high on drugs while he bankrupts our country and makes us a fool internationally . . . I can’t see there being any hope . . . he supports the Safe Consumption Sites that enable and encourage addicts, with addicts dying of overdoses in the back alleys of East Hastings within meters of sites and we even had one die in the parking lot of the SCS in Lethbridge, with high numbers of overdoses within a block of the SCS.
Even addicts know SCS sites only encourage the addiction, and some of them I have talked to who knew that are no longer here!
A sober shelter should be far away from the gongshow we have going on downtown!

Last edited 1 year ago by ewingbt

Sounds like there was not consideration for the local business community, the residents, those using the rink or even the recovering addicts, but the decision was more of an accounting decision, disregarding the human elements and focusing on keeping the building operational, even if it negatively impacted all the parties involved.
This is what happens when you have the ‘bean counters’ make important decisions. They only consider the money and not the people, and the taxpayer is left holding the bill!
There should be no encampments in this city, period! As other communities have proven, the more shelter/housing you provide, the more people will come to use those services, many shipped in from other communities!
It should be a mandatory requirement to work in city administration, you must have lived in this city for most of your life, whether that means only being an adult for 5 years, or 20 years! We have too many people making important decisions for changes in this community who are transplants from other cities and those decisions may work in Calgary or Winnipeg, but not in our city and the location of this site proves that point!

Last edited 1 year ago by R.U.Serious
Citi Zen

Why on earth does the more appropriate location need to be in Lethhridge?? It woud be far more sensible to open a facility on the reserve. Reasons are firstly, they would qualify for federal monies, rather than from the Lethbridge taxpayer. Secondly, the majority of users would be in the midst of friends, family and aquaintances. Third, less crime in our city. People would once again venture downtown… what a concept!
Opening up a facility in Lethbridge will only certainly attract undesireables, who come looking for their sober friends.
It will never be sucessful in Lethbridge; put it where it belongs…!

Last edited 1 year ago by Citi Zen
Say What . . .

You are correct! They will not deal with their problems though, instead they banish their problematic people or send them onto the streets of Lethbridge and then blame us for all the issues! It is all our fault because they don’t know how to be responsible, mature! The blame game is their answer to the problem.
They have a big arena that has plenty of shelter room, even gym mats so all they need are pillows, sleeping bags or blankets. Instead, they want to slowing take over Lethbridge, one block at a time! After all, we are on their land!!!!!????

Last edited 1 year ago by Say What . . .