July 18th, 2024

SPC to face number of funding requests

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 7, 2024.

Herald photo by Al Beeber An excavator works on Monday at the site of Lethbridge Housing Association's new supportive housing project.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee of Lethbridge city council will be hearing multiple submissions today when it meets at City Hall.

The meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. in council chambers.

The SPC includes the mayor and all members of council.

This afternoon’s meeting has 14 submissions from City staff on various matters. The first presentation will be from Housing Solutions Coordinator Matthew Pitcher of Community Social Development who will ask the SPC to recommend that council approve one of four options regarding Lethbridge Housing Association in its endeavour to build a new supportive housing project at 416 Stafford Drive North.

Ground was broken in early March on the project which has a total expected cost of $11,276,000. Of that money, just over $10.2 million is being provided by the Government of Alberta.

When completed, the project will provide 30 units of supportive housing for the city’s vulnerable population, those who are homeless as well as people who live with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and need long-term supports.

Construction started this spring on the project which is a joint initiative of the provincial government, the City of Lethbridge and LHA.

Funding, says the province, is eligible for federal cost-matching under the National Housing Strategy bilateral agreement.

The project is the first of its kind to be built in the city.

Pitcher’s report says that the Affordable and Social Housing Capital Grant is presently paused for intake until a comprehensive review has been completed but in alignment with current practice, when an opportunity to finish a supportive housing project exists, the request is brought to council for its consideration.

Pitcher’s report says that funding the full amount will ensure the LHA project includes all key aspects of the proposal.

“LHA has identified that the project is designed to implement key features and infrastructure that are crucial for promoting safety and wellness within our community. Failure to obtain this request may result in substantial cuts to non-infrastructure items, that could be considered subjective, that maintain resident onsite, reduce off-site community impacts and promote participant success,” says the report.

Any financial risk associated with funding “can be effectively managed by the terms and conditions of the grant funding agreement,” says the report.

But funding the project could result in insufficient municipal funding available to support future requests, the report adds.

The options facing the SPC today include:

1) City council provide up to $1,050,000 of funding from the Affordable and Social Housing Capital Fund to the Lethbridge Housing Authority for the supportive housing project.

2) Council provide an alternative amount of funding.

3) Refer the allocation request to the November Economic and Finance SPC budget review or the Affordable and Social Housing Capital Grant intake period, whichever comes first.

4) Council rejects funding for the project.

Also on today’s agenda will be a request that the SPC recommend council approve a request of $210,000 in cash or in-kind contribution to be funded from the Major Community Event Grant budget to the Downtown BRZ for the PlayON! Canada Street Hockey Festival.

Due to a lack of federal funding, all PlayOn! festivals were cancelled this year but that organization and SportsNet have entered into a multi-year promotional partnership and as a result, PlayOn! I pursuing other grants and sponsorships for 2025-26.

City administration has reviewed the Downtown BRZ and PlayOn! funding request and believes it aligns with the intent of the Major Community Event hosting policy.

The SPC will also deal with a request from the Lethbridge Curling Club for a letter of support and financial support of $400,000 and cash-in-kind to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts here from Jan. 25-Feb.1, 2026.

The submission will be made by Abby Slovack, general Manager of Opportunity Lethbridge, and Kirk Mearns and Mike Mulroy of the curling club.

Administration, in a report to SPC, says it believes the request aligns with the Major Community Event hosting policy but funding from the grant program for 2023-26 has been fully allocated and the program deemed to be closed.

Two recommendations will face the SPC today on the matter. The first is that no funding be allocated beyond what has already been approved in the operating budget for the grant or that one-time funding of $400,000 be provided from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve should the curling club be successful in its bid.

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