file photo

City of Wetaskiwin approves 24/7 Integrated Response Hub

The shelter will provide 24/7 supports and is set to open November 1, 2020.

At the regular Sept. 14, 2020 City Council meeting, Wetaskiwin City Council approved the motion to set in place the 24/7 Integrated Response Hub that for the City of Wetaskiwin. This Hub is designed with a five-phase plan in mind that will address inequalities and disparities in the community.

The Council received a presentation from The Open Door, a regional non-profit organization that offers integrated shelter services using a harm reduction method with a holistic wraparound approach based out of Camrose, Alta., regarding the provision of an Integrated Response Hub in Wetaskiwin at the Sept. 14 meeting.

This Hub will include an adult only shelter service with 24/7 supports, as well as a daytime drop-in centre. Following the presentation the Wetaskiwin City Council approved up to $90,000 for The Open Door to mobilize, operate, and manage the 24/7 support site which is set to open for November 1, 2020 in Wetaskiwin.

The Open Door operates an Integrated Youth Hub in Camrose for youth in need between the ages of 11 and 24. If Wetaskiwin Youth need assistance or the use of the 24/7 Integrated Response Hub, there will be transportation available to them to transfer to the Camrose Hub.

The Open Door has not finalized a location for the Wetaskiwin shelter as of this time, however, both they and the City are aware of the community concerns about the downtown core location of last years shelter due to disruption of regular business and overall public safety concerns. In the motion approving the City funding for the shelter, City Council included that it must be at a mutually agreed upon location.

“The City of Wetaskiwin and City Council are committed to helping our vulnerable population,” said City of Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam. “We will continue to work with our partners and outside agencies to ensure that anyone who needs help can access supports.”

The 24/7 Integrated Response Hub differs from Wetaskiwin’s past emergency shelters in a couple ways. In 2018 the City of Wetaskiwin opened an emergency shelter at the Wetaskiwin Civic Building in February 2019 due to plummeting temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius. That shelter ran until April 2018 and was largely staffed by community volunteers including City employees and members of City Council.

The 2019 shelter was also held in the Wetaskiwin Civic Building with a contract awarded to the Lighthouse Church for November 2019 until March 2020, however, the shelter was closed earlier than planned due to community safety concerns in the downtown core.

While past shelters operated largely through volunteer assistance, 24/7 Integrated Response Hub will be staffed 24/7 and include assistance programming in addition to providing shelter.

Resources available through the 24/7 Integrated Response Hub include:

• 24/7 supports and intakes;

• Basic needs coverage and programming;

• Rapid and immediate care;

• Access to community supports;

• And access to The Open Door programming.

The Open Door will continue to work with Wetaskiwin FCSS to ensure the success of the 24/7 Integrated Response Hub.

“We are confident that a long-term and sustainable response is viable within the City of Wetaskiwin to support individuals who are vulnerable, at risk, or are experiencing homelessness, mental health concerns or addictions,” said Jessica Hutton, Executive Director of the Camrose Open Door Association.

The Open Door and Wetaskiwin FCSS are predicting that the 24/7 Integrated Response Hub will cost approximately $710,000 for the first year; with most of that money needed for the cost of 24/7 staffing. The City of Wetaskiwin is contributing $90,000 of this cost.

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