Council to consider temporary shelter at exhibition grandstand

Local agencies say existing shelter isn't big enough for proper distancing, expected increase in need

Prince Albert city council debates a motion inside City Hall on July 13, 2020. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert’s city council will consider a multi-agency proposal to set up an emergency shelter on the exhibition grounds during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

The proposal, which is being led by the YWCA and River Bank Development Corporation and which has been approved by the exhibition association’s board, would see a 20-bed emergency shelter set up under the grandstand on the exhibition grounds. The capacity could be increased in an emergency situation.

The shelter will be managed by the YWCA and will operate over the fall and winter months. It will close by May 1, 2021.

According to a report prepared for council, the grandstand needs to undergo some minor renovations to comply with various health and safety regulations. River Bank Development Corp. and The Prince Albert Exhibition Association will be managing the renovation.

The proposal for the shelter originated at a vulnerable persons working group meeting, coordinated by the city.

The shelter would add space to Prince Albert. While the YWCA has been running a cold weather shelter at Our House for several years, the COVID-19 crisis has led organizations to look for a larger space.

The Our House shelter has limited space, and just ten beds. While it has managed to meet local needs, the proposal states concerns that social distancing will limit the number of beds at the existing location further.

“We also feel that demand may increase,” a letter signed by River Bank Development Corporation reads.

“There may be more people choosing to stay in Prince Albert, especially if a second wave results in lockdowns in surrounding and northern communities. Also, a significant number of homeless people in Prince Albert rely on others for temporary shelter — couch surfing — during the winter and this supply might be limited because of COVID.”

The letter goes ton to express concern about the impact an increase in the number of COVID_19 cases will have if the homeless population is not supported.

“An unsupported homeless population inevitably leads to greater demands on health care and police services and these will be under extreme stress if there is a second wave,” the letter says.

“We must think back to the year prior to the establishment of the cold weather shelter when four homeless people froze to death. We do not want to go there again.”

Funding for the new temporary shelter would come from Reaching Home funds, managed by River Bank Development. That funding is already in place. It’s being supplemented by federal and provincial funding sources, including COVID-19-specific funding pools.

The organizers said that community safety is very important. They said the current shelter has not seen a major incident in its past seven years of operation.

“In fact, we believe that the operation of this shelter will increase community safety by removing vulnerable people from the streets of Prince Albert at night when desperation over cold and hunger might drive them to make some bad decisions,” the proposal reads.

It adds that the shelter has a 125-metre buffer zone from any residential areas, and that, on average, between 15 and 25 people have accessed the shelter in previous years.

It added that most clients won’t reach the shelter by travelling through residential areas near the exhibition grounds.

As for the shelter itself, several safety measures will be put in place, such as two trained staff on duty at all times, with panic buttons should an emergency develop, cameras with views inside and outside the shelter, discussions with the police to develop a coordinated response and an operating plan that works within COVID-19 guidelines for shelters.

“Our community is facing a difficult and complex situation as a result of the COVID epidemic,” the proposal, signed by the YWCA and River Bank Development, reads.

“This epidemic has had a profound effect on all of our lives. Our vulnerable population, which will be most affected by the onset of winter needs additional community support for this most difficult time.”

The proposal wouldn’t require any funding support from the city. Rather, council needs to grant a development permit for the project to move forward.

The proposal received one email expressing concerns about community safety, vandalism and property values.

The email called for the shelter to be placed “away from urban life.”

The shelter proposal is just one of more than 20 issues council will debate during Tuesday’s meeting. Other items on the agenda include the proposed mountain bike skills park and motions regarding the removal of trees during roadwork and committee members’ residency requirements.

The meeting is the last of this council’s term ahead of the Nov. 9 provincial election.

It will begin at 5 p.m. in council chambers.

Tuesday’s council agenda

1. CALL TO ORDER

2. PRAYER

3. APPROVAL OF AGENDA

4. DECLARATION OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST

5. ADOPTION OF MINUTES

5.1 September 21, 2020 City Council Meeting Minutes for Approval (MIN 20-45)

6. NOTICE OF PROCLAMATIONS

6.1 World No Alcohol Day – October 2, 2020

6.2 Saskatchewan Multicultural Week – November 21 – 29, 2020

6.3 Adoption Awareness Month – November, 2020

7. PRESENTATIONS & RECOGNITIONS

8. PUBLIC HEARINGS

8.1 Bylaw No. 16 of 2020 – Zoning Bylaw Review and Amendments – 2nd and 3rd

Reading (RPT 20-415)

8.2 Bylaw No. 23 of 2020 – Rezoning 1492 7th Street East from the CMU Zoning

District to the R4 Zoning District (RPT 20-423)

9. DELEGATIONS

9.1 Development Permit Application – Temporary Shelter (RPT 20-422)

9.1.1 Request for Support for the Proposed Cold Weather Shelter (CORR 20-81)

9.1.2 Concerns regarding the Proposed Cold Weather Shelter (CORR 20-82)

10. COMMUNICATIONS

11. REPORTS OF ADMINISTRATION & COMMITTEES

11.1 Agreement to Provide City Solicitor Services – City Solicitor Contract – City Council

(RPT 20-417)

11.2 2021 Executive Committee and City Council Meeting Schedule (RPT 20-377)

11.3 Bylaw Enforcement Officer Letter of Understanding with CUPE Local 882 (RPT

20-387)

11.4 Updates to Bylaws – Prince Albert Bylaw Enforcement Unit (RPT 20-421)

11.5 2020 Landfill Groundwater Monitoring and Surface Water Monitoring Program

(RPT 20-419)

11.6 Bus Bench and Shelter Agreement (RPT 20-420)

11.7 Work Order and Asset Management Software Award (RPT 20-431)

11.8 Taxiway B Airfield Lighting Rehabilitation Tender (RPT 20-432)

11.9 Prince Albert Airport Terminal Renovations Tender (RPT 20-433)

11.10 Response to Residential Neighbourhood Development Cleaning (RPT 20-412)

11.11 Bank Courier and Coin Rolling Services (2021 to 2023) (RPT 20-416)

11.12 Tax Title Assistance – Consulting Services Agreement (RPT 20-418)

11.13 Short-Term Borrowing Reduction (RPT 20-424)

11.14 Fire Department Fire Truck Tender 45/20 (RPT 20-425)

11.15 Little Red Mountain Bike Skills Park Overview (RPT 20-426)

11.16 Golf Course Management Agreement (RPT 20-427)

12. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

12.1 Motion – Councillor E. Botha – Removal of Trees – Utility Digs and Street Repaving

(MOT 20-20)

Note: The Motion was postponed at the September 21, 2020 City Council

Meeting.

12.2 Motion – Councillor T. Lennox-Zepp – Committee Members Residency

Requirement (MOT 20-22)

Note: The Motion was postponed at the September 21, 2020 City Council

Meeting.

13. MAYOR & COUNCILLORS FORUM

14. INQUIRIES

15. INQUIRIES RESPONSES

15.1 September 21, 2020 City Council Meeting Inquiry Responses (INQ 20-12)

16. NOTICE OF MOTION

17. MOTIONS

17.1 Motion – Councillor T. Lennox-Zepp – Refrain from Shutting Off Residential Water

(MOT 20-23)

17.2 Motion – Councillor D. Nowoselsky – Closure of Roadway by 200 – 25th Street East

(MOT 20-24)

18. PUBLIC FORUM

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