Safe Harbour Society will be able to provide 20 additional overnight shelter beds this winter.
City council approved a development permit application Monday night after Safe Harbour came forward citing insufficient overnight space at their current overnight shelter space.
Executive Director Kath Hoffman admitted they haven’t had to turn away many as of late with unseasonably mild temperatures, but added that surely won't last.
“This means that no matters who’s looking for shelter or what state they’re in, in the middle of this winter all the way until the end of April, we’re going to be able to let them in some place warm and they can be welcomed,” she said.
The overflow space will be situated where the current daytime winter warming centre is on Safe Harbour’s property. Hoffman added a year from now, they hope to be leading the way on a new permanent centre, rather than having to ask council to re-apply the band-aid.
“A new facility will do things a lot smarter, more collaboratively,” she said. “We have an application in right now to the provincial government for the capital money they have coming out soon and we’re crossing our fingers and holding our breath that we’ll be successful in that.”
Councillor Vesna Higham said there’s a major incongruency with Red Deer ranking high on the list of opioid overdose deaths and near or at the bottom of the list for shelter funds per capita.
“This has been ongoing for over 15 years where the province has sort of given piece-mealed, patch-worked, temporary band-aid solutions to the very real critical problems that exist in our community,” she said.
“I applaud the work being done by Safe Harbour, but what they need is a permanent coordinated, holistic, comprehensive approach where we’d have a permanent shelter capacity so we don’t have to keep going and approving temporary development permits that last three or six months.”
The overflow nighttime shelter is permitted to operate until April 30, 2018.
-- Adressing billboard proliferation
Council voted 5-3 on third reading Monday night to amend the sign bylaw following a public hearing.
Changes came forward based on public feedback that too many billboards were popping up around the city.
The main change will see billboards restricted to being 1000m away from each other, or having a 500m radius with no overlap.
Billboards must also be 100m away from any residential neighbourhood.
Reg Warkentin, Policy and Advocacy Manager with the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, was the only speaker during the public hearing. He told council billboards are a healthy part of commerce.
"When you look at Google, YouTube, your email, there's no way around ads these days. When it comes to physical signs, billboards to be specific, there's no denying how important they are. It's really an invaluable service," he said, noting members reached out to the Chamber to voice their displeasure.
"They're certainly concerned about anything that's restricting their ability to advertise. Our economy is moving in the right direction, but a lot of businesses still aren't feeling that positive tug. They're still struggling."
Scott Baird, Director of Leasing, Prairie Region, for Pattison Outdoor, also wrote in about that company's 30 year history in Red Deer, noting they've actually removed six billboards from our city in the last decade, while only adding three.
"The existing bylaw is sufficiently prohibitive to avoid a proliferation of billboards in Red Deer," he said. "Implementing the proposed billboard sign amendments would be voerly punitive to both outdoor advertising companies and the local businesses who they serve."
Mayor Tara Veer said while the current economic climate is recognized, consultation identified that billboards are just one medium for businesses to advertise.
"It's fair to say our Land Use Bylaw is a living document and it's always in flux," she said. "If the amendments which passed tonight are not meeting the broad community outcomes, there are always future amendments that could come to the table."
-- Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup
City council gave approval to a request for $75,000 in support of the 2018 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, to be co-hosted by Red Deer.
More details are here.
-- Green cart implementation
The City of Red Deer is inching closer to the implementation of the long-awaited green cart program.
Last May, council agreed to distribute green carts city-wide starting next April.
It was anticipated at the time there would be no more than a five per cent increase ($1.02 per month) to household waste management rates.
Now that tenders have closed, The City confirms the increase as a result of the entire green, blue and black cart program will be 4.9 per cent.
Blue and black carts will be introduced in the spring of 2019.
-- Supervised consumption public hearing
Red Deer city council meets one final time before the holiday break.
Council meets next Tuesday the 19th at 6 p.m. for a public hearing on supervised consumption services.
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