Leduc City Council withdraws support for homeless shelter, will instead use Edmonton services – Edmonton

Leduc City Council withdraws support for homeless shelter, will instead use Edmonton services – Edmonton

In a 4-2 vote Monday night, Leduc City Council decided not to open an emergency shelter this winter, instead sending its homeless to Edmonton.

The vote was a direct reversal of a June 24 decision approving construction of an extreme cold-weather shelter.

Mayor Bob Young told Global News his decision was made because of cost.

He estimated the shelter would be open about 14 nights between November and April and would cost just over $300,000.

“What I would like to see is us build a team of navigators who can identify homeless people and get them to the services they need,” Young said Tuesday.

He sees a similar image to the Hope Mission rescue truck, which drives through the streets of Edmonton 24/7 to provide emergency aid.

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The Hope Mission rescue vehicle in front of the Edmonton Navigation Centre (10302 107 Street) on February 5, 2024.

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But Leduc doesn’t have the services that Edmonton does, so that team would have to shuttle people into the city, primarily to the provincially funded Navigation Centre in the city centre.

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Spruce Grove does the same.

“The City of Spruce Grove has a team of community service providers who are supporting people with resources specifically tailored to the needs of community members,” Jennifer Hetherington, the city’s director of communications, said in a statement to Global News.

“This may include connecting them with mental health and addictions specialists, providing general resources and systems, providing comprehensive case management, collaborating with other professionals, and exploring different housing options.”

The Hub — Leduc’s only homeless shelter — closed in May after its lease expired and it couldn’t find a suitable new location. It started 15 years ago as an emergency winter shelter but grew and evolved into a community center. It had 10 emergency shelter beds and offered social services like meals and laundry.

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Leduc City Council revises winter shelter plan after emergency space approval

Young points out that Leduc has a population of only 32,000 and that there are 20 to 60 people who are homeless, so the new order will not result in busloads of people being brought to Edmonton.

“The number of people we’re dealing with is so small compared to what Edmonton has to deal with,” the mayor said.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says Edmonton’s homeless population has doubled since the pandemic hit. His city is already struggling.

“People are desperate for services and they will go where they can, and that puts a huge strain on services in Edmonton, which are already underfunded,” Sohi said.

“It’s a domino effect.”

He added that bedroom communities bringing homeless people to Edmonton for services is not new, but their impact is greater now.

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However, Sohi said no people will be turned away.

“A homeless person living in Leduc deserves services. If Leduc can’t provide those services, then they come to Edmonton,” he explained.

On Monday, the Alberta government announced that anyone experiencing homelessness can access the Navigation and Support Centre.

“However, the Navigation Centre is designed to serve Edmonton and typically operates at capacity, with 45 to 50 people per day. We do not encourage organizations outside of Edmonton to bring clients to the centre as this would present additional challenges, including returning clients to Leduc or their home communities,” a statement from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said.

Both Sohi and Young want to sit down with the province to develop a regional solution, including more financing.

© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.