July 12th, 2024

Streets Alive suspends warming centre while hoping for alternative location

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 14, 2023.

Herald file photo A group gathers outside of the Streets Alive Mission earlier this month. The mission has suspended the 24-hour warming centre and is hoping to find a more suitable location in anticipation of the return of colder weather.

With the recent influx of warmer weather, city residents are seeing less snow, but that doesn’t mean concerns about the homeless have melted away along with the ice.

During the month of December, the City of Lethbridge and Streets Alive Mission opened the doors of the Mission as a 24-hour warming center to help with the cold snap we saw. But now with warmer weather sweeping across southern Alberta, the Mission and City have decided to suspend the 24-hour warming center as they look for alternative means.

“The purpose of the warming center, right from the beginning, was to make sure that we are saving lives during those bitter cold days that we see in our southern Alberta winters,” said Jennifer Lepko, director of fund development at the Mission. “We know that there is less capacity at the shelter than what we have in regards to people needing a shelter. There is approximately 100 people that are additional to what the capacity at the current shelter is. The purpose of us opening up the warming space was so they could at least come in and warm up and not freeze to death on the streets. We saw a need in those cold days when we were seeing wind chills of -45 and -47, we were literally pulling people who were blue and not breathing into the building and saving lives.”

Now with warmer weather in the forecast, the Mission is looking to re-evaluate the warming setup.

“When the weather did change to the positives, and it became a little milder outside, we saw individuals start to loiter, and some issues arise on the exterior of our building. Not utilizing the service, but coming to the area. It was determined between us and the City that we are not seeing those frigid temperatures that would cause harm to people. We have suspended the warming center, and have moved our services to outreach where we are able to connect with the people on the street and make sure they are taken care of,” said Lepko. “The hope is that we, along with the City, are able to find a temporary location that we can provide a ‘pop-up’ type warming center.”

Understanding the niche they helped fill during the coldest nights, the Mission wants to continue helping but also re-evaluate their process.

“We know it is going to get cold again, we are only in mid-January. We are going to see those frigid temperatures again. We are hoping that we can find a location that is reasonable and more suitable than our current location,” said Lepko. “We are a little concerned because we are struggling to find a location that is suitable for this, but we are hoping that we hear soon from the City so we can get ready.”

Hoping to work with the community and those affected by homelessness, the Mission and City will look for an area that can be temporarily used when needed.

“We don’t want to bring any negativity to any community. We want to be part of the solution and we want to work with the community. Doing what we can to be a part of the solution,” said Lepko. “We are part of the community and that is our focus, we want to make our community better for everyone.”

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Would be enlightening to get accurate info as to how much this decision was motivated by damage to the property and abuse of it’s staff.


Good point! No one really understands just how tough it is dealing with this group of disrespectul, aggressive individuals that we have been brainwashed to think they are the most vulnerable.
They do not appreciate anything! But, they demand more!
I counted about 100 people inside and out, roughly when I checked it out and lets realize that Streets Alive was asked by the city to open it’s doors as a warming center, so they stated they could provide for about 60.
They were overwhelmed, and the shelter saw lower numbers at the same time, so they were all hanging around Streets Alive.
Streets Alive does a lot of good and has successful programs, but this was unexpected.
I think it was the public outcry and angry phone calls to city hall from downtown businesses that was the main factor.
No need for a warming center during these temps anyway.
No one really understands that security alone is a high cost when you pay $27-$45 an hour per guard . . . depending on the type wanted, training and equipment . . . so if you had 2 guards 24/7 lets just say at $30 per hour, the costs per day = $1,440 . . . now times that by 90 days for winter months and that is $ 129,600.
These days you need well trained guards who have been trained to deal with this type of situation so the costs are probably higher since training and equipping them adds to the costs.
2 guards are not enough when dealing with this type of group of disrespectful people in numbers of 60 or 100.
They are aggressive phyically and abusive with their threats. They threaten and assault police and EMS, so there is no respect of security.
We have ‘conditioned’ the addicts and homeless to behave in this manner by allowing them to do what they want on our streets, creating a lawless, disrespectful group, which is why many cities now are putting an end to encampments and loitering, including several US states.
This needs to change and laws need to be enforced, but that won’t help until the judicial systems get their acts together! We need to take back our streets, neighbourhoods, parks . . . our city!

Last edited 1 year ago by ewingbt
Dennis Bremner

I have guesses as to what is happening as of now visit https://lethccc.com/now.html

pursuit diver

Interesting website! One thing that Vancouver found was a mistake was to concentrate all the services/non-profits in one area.
Enforce existing laws and end all encampments and loitering!
Several US states now realize that enabling these people is only increasing the issues.
“Numerous anti-homeless laws are being passed across the US as funding for social services is widely reduced, raising welfare concerns among advocates for the unhoused.”
“In Missouri, a new state law that took effect on 1 January makes it a crime for any person to sleep on state property. For unhoused people, sleeping in public parks or under city highways could mean up to $750 in fines or 15 days in prison for multiple offenses.”
“Other cities and local municipalities in America have also passed measures targeting homeless individuals, through criminal consequences or forced hospitalization.”
“Under the New York mayor, Eric Adams, who is entering the second year of his four-year tenure, city officials outlawed houseless people from sleeping on the city’s subway system or riding the trains all night.”
“Other politicians have followed suit. Last September, California’s Governor Gavin Newson signed a law that would force people with certain mental health conditions to comply with treatment if first responders, family members, or others ask a judge, reported the Associated Press.
“Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, announced during a business forum last December that he supports lowering the threshold to involuntarily hospitalize unhoused people, reported Oregon Public Broadcasting.”
Toronto’s Mayor is getting tough but also if looking at better mental health and addiction treatment.
“Following a rash of violent attacks and a need to see people get the healthcare support they need, Mayor John Tory said he will be ramping up efforts to push the provincial and federal governments to properly fund mental health and addictions supports. Tory said the issue is a Canada-wide issue affective both large and small municipalities. Matthew Bingley reports.”
We are at the crossroads and can stop this or become another Vancouver DTES.
A poll a few months ago:
And according to a new Leger poll for Postmedia, Canadians are not only done with all of this, but they’re increasingly convinced that their governments are actively making it worse.”
If this ‘brilliant’ plan fails Lethbridge now has, then we may as well move to neighbouring towns and pay taxes there and watch Lethbridge fall the rest of the way into the abyss!
This Council and administration have put their jobs on the line!