April 23rd, 2024

LHA thrilled with housing project approval

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on September 21, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Robin James and the Lethbridge Housing Association were thrilled when city council on Tuesday unanimously approved a request to rezone a property in north Lethbridge so the organization can build a supportive housing project.

Council voted 8-0 – Deputy Mayor John Middleton was absent – to change the property at 416 Stafford Drive North from General Commercial to Direct Control.

“We will now have the opportunity to house 30 people that are committed to a recovery journey that have faced barriers to housing in the past,” said James on Wednesday.

“Through our partnership with Alberta Health Services and Persons with Developmental Disabilities we are confident together we can provide safe, affordable, and appropriate housing,’ the CAO of Lethbridge Housing added.

“This purpose-built supportive housing project is the first of its kind in Lethbridge.

“We look forward to the positive impact this will make on not only those we serve but also on our community as a whole. LHA is committed to ensuring we are connecting the right individuals to the right housing with the appropriate supports in an effort to empower individuals to reach their highest level of independence,” said James.

Bylaw 6411 addresses the vacant property where LHA will be building a facility with 30 supportive units as well as a pharmacy and medical clinic on the site. Supportive housing wasn’t allowed under previous zoning.

The City says the rezoning is in line with both the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan and the Municipal Development Plan which ensures accessible community programs and services; promotes the physical and mental health of all residents, supports the creation of permanent housing, intox and inpatient/outpatient treatment options; promotes the safety of all residents; promotes affordable housing; and promotes mixed-use development.

It is also in line with the Municipal Housing Strategy that as of 2019, showed a need for an additional 390 supportive housing units in the city. That strategy recommended that 30 new supportive housing units be built each year.

During her presentation, LHA CAO Robin James specifically addressed concerns about the project, detailing who would be using it.

Individuals committed to a path of recovery would be served by the supportive housing complex, James told council.

She said there are individuals in need of recovery capital. This is when people finished in recovery have a home and family to come back to, all of which contribute to recovery, she said.

But many people don’t have that recovery capital, James said, so that needs to be put in place for individuals. Safe and affordable housing is a part of that recovery capital, she added.

The project will also support people with developmental disabilities who will never have the capacity to live successfully in market housing. Also to be helped will be people with suspected diagnosed mental heath concerns that impact their ability to remain successfully housed and people who require additional life skill training to be successful in market housing in the future, added James.

All residents must be committed to recovery, the CAO added, with relapse pathways that have already been designed and discussed with the Blood Tribe Department of Health.

She stated it’s not a supervised consumption site, given comments made online. It’s also not a drop-in centre or resource centre, James stated.

“The real risk is in us doing nothing,” James said.

“The worst thing we can do as a community at this point is turn our back to this and do nothing,” said James.

The facility will be funded by the province with no support from Lethbridge taxpayers, James said on Tuesday during the hearing. She said the site was chosen in 2019 due to is proximity to bus routes and services.

The project has a $10 million price tag.

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