What is the current homelessness situation in Lethbridge?

    As per the 2018 Lethbridge Point-In-Time (PIT) Homeless Count, there were 223 individuals who were experiencing homelessness in some capacity:

                Unsheltered: 7 (3%)
                Emergency Sheltered: 136 (61%)
                Provisionally Accommodated: 75 (34%)
                Unknown or Did Not Disclose: 5 (2%)

    The City of Lethbridge is conducting a new PIT Count on September 27th, 2022. Administration is expecting an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness since 2018.

    Why does Lethbridge need shelter options?

    Many people experiencing homelessness might avoid the current shelter to distance themselves from individuals experiencing substance use addiction.

    A sober shelter provides an opportunity to distance oneself from addictive substances to seek treatment.

    Providing an alternative shelter option could result in fewer people experiencing homelessness, but this is not guaranteed.

    Who is the SSIG and what were their findings?

    The Social Services Integration Group (SSIG) was created to provide a plan for social services and where to locate them.

    The SSIG is made up of members of the public, business community, and not-for-profit community.

    On December 14th, 2021 SSIG recommendations were forwarded to Council that identified the Civic Curling Centre as an appropriate location for an interim Sober Shelter.

    The SSIG determined this as an appropriate location due to the quick project turn around compared to other areas, and because a municipally owned building allows the City to maintain full control over the interim Sober Shelter through a lease agreement.

    What is a sober shelter?

    A sober shelter (high-barrier shelter) provides a clean and safe place for people seeking emergency accommodations that are not under the influence of addictive substances.

    A sober shelter is operationally different from the Lethbridge Shelter and Stabilization Centre (a low-barrier shelter), which does not turn people away if they are under the influence of addictive substances.

    This operational difference, coupled with other personal factors, may deter some people from using the Lethbridge Shelter facility.

    Under the Lethbridge Land Use Bylaw, a Sober Shelter is not defined differently than a typical shelter. Therefore, a lease agreement would be used to dictate that this facility operate as a sober shelter.

    What are the roles of different levels of government in this project?

    Project Development – City of Lethbridge via administration

    Development Approval Authority – City of Lethbridge via Development Officer

    Decision makers –

    • Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (development permit decision)
    • Lethbridge Council (lease agreement decision)

    Operator Selection – Government of Alberta

    Capital Upgrades – Government of Alberta, City of Lethbridge Council, and/or future operator

    Sober Shelter operations –

    • General operations (selected operator)
    • Lease agreement holder (City Council)

    How long is ‘interim’?

    The exact length of this project would be dictated by Council through a Lease Agreement. Currently administration is exploring the potential of a 3-5 year term.

    What will the City be doing to ensure the safety of recreational arena users and the surrounding area?

    The City will look to findings from public engagement to identify community concerns. In general, the City will look to improve cleanliness and safety conditions for users and the public through a combination of a neighbourhood communications plan; building, site, and renovation design; and, conditions within the lease agreement with the operator.

    What is the process if someone is turned away from the sober shelter?

    A shelter's entry and use criteria would be at the discretion of the operator. The selection of sober shelter operator is under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

    How much will this all cost?

    The City is currently undertaking a review of financial implications and will report back to Council with this information sometime in early 2023. Public engagement and initial studies are expected to cost under $1,500.