Red Deer City Council ceased negotiations with a private landowner regarding a site for a future permanent shelter last week.  

The decision to cease negotiations occurred as the site was determined to be cost-prohibitive based on currently committed provincial funds. The size of the site, servicing required, and environmental factors all contributed to the financial constraints, making the site unviable.  

Going forward, city council is calling on the province to share their potential vision and operating model for a future permanent shelter before finding another site.   

“This is a provincial project. With four sites previously and unsuccessfully put forward to the province of Alberta, it is time for a different conversation – a conversation that includes discussion about process, model, and operator. We as a city council want to know what services a future permanent shelter might include. We want to know who it will serve. We want to know how it will be integrated into our community,” said Mayor Ken Johnston. “There are several factors currently hindering our ability to proceed, cost is just one of these factors. We know our community wants certainty, as does city council. We will continue to do everything we can to work with the province to site and develop a permanent shelter that acknowledges the needs of all in our city.”  

Over 130 sites were considered for a permanent shelter in Red Deer, with four formally put forward to the province for consideration:  

  • The first site considered by city council was located in Railyards (downtown). Following targeted input sessions, city council decided not to proceed with the site as it did not align with community needs and values. It was removed as a site option.  

  • The second site recommended by city council was located at the north end of Red Deer and was not supported by the province due to concerns related to compatibility with nearby amenities.  

  • The third site, located in south Red Deer, was unanimously supported by city council on Oct. 11, 2023, followed by support from the province. However, land negotiations failed.  

  • The fourth site put forward was located in northeast Red Deer. It was initially supported by the province. However, city council has now ceased negotiations as it was determined to be unviable. The size of the site, servicing, and other factors all contributed to the site being cost-prohibitive.   

The city is not releasing the addresses of the sites put forward to the province as they focus on the next steps and work to respect the privacy of the private property/landowners. 

“We want to share more information with our community as we progress through this process. But right now, we are working to find a way forward with the province, and we do not have any new information to share just yet. We know this is disheartening for many,” Johnston said. “I, like you, hoped we might already have shovels in the ground for a new permanent shelter in Red Deer. But siting and developing a shelter in the right place in the right way is important work, and we want to ensure we are aligned in our vision and approach. We are committed to honouring a housing-first focus that considers the needs and impacts for everyone in our city. Red Deer, I believe we will get there; we just need to find a new way forward.”  

Red Deer’s Point in Time Count, held in 2022, determined the number of persons experiencing homelessness in the city increased to 334, from 144 in 2018.  

The temporary shelter is approved to continue to operate, until at least May 1, 2025.  

A community update will be provided following city councils meeting with the province.



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