Everyone deserves a warm place to go at night. The City of Wetaskiwin reinforced that point recently when council approved funding to reopen and operate an emergency shelter in the Civic Building for the city’s homeless community.

Everyone deserves a warm place to go at night. The City of Wetaskiwin reinforced that point recently when council approved funding to reopen and operate an emergency shelter in the Civic Building for the city’s homeless community.

Emergency shelter in Wetaskiwin a benefit to the community as a whole

Shelter presence results in large reduction in hospital visits, police calls for service

Keeping members of Wetaskiwin’s homeless community out of the cold is an action City councillors feel strongly about.

That’s why they voted last week to dedicate up to $65,000 to cover the operational costs from opening through March 31, 2020 for an emergency shelter at the Civic building. City administrators will be working with one of two organizations, Hope Mission or the Lighthouse Church, to get the shelter up and running quickly with the cold weather already here.

“While setting up an emergency shelter again for our vulnerable population is a great first step, it remains just that – a first step,” said Mayor Tyler Gandam. “The City will continue to seek financial support from the provincial government, as well as from neighbouring communities.”

Time is of the essence

Both service provider groups provided council with their estimated costs for what it would take to operate the shelter. But due to the cold weather Wetaskiwin is expecting – the forecast calls for minus temperatures overnight all this week – the City plans to give preference to the group that is able to get the shelter up and running in the shortest amount of time.

Shelter’s presence eased hospital workload

The shelter in the Civic building was open for three months early this year, starting Feb. 5, and its presence had a significant effect on the work done by emergency services providers. Not only was there a large decrease in the number of calls for service received by the RCMP while the shelter was open, local hospital visits were also reduced, according to Alberta Health Services.

Making it work for all parties

The presence of the shelter in the Civic building was not without its challenges, notes Mayor Gandam, which is why the City will work hard to address specific issues that arose during the opening earlier this year.

“Council recognizes there were also challenges experienced by the greater community while the shelter was open, including increased loitering and public intoxication in Wetaskiwin’s downtown core,” he says. “Our commitment to keeping Wetaskiwin a secure, connected, and inclusive community remains a priority, and we will be working with those impacted by the location of the shelter.”

Long-term plan to be worked out

Also at the Nov. 12 council meeting, City Administration was directed by Council to examine broader, long-term solutions for addressing community issues such as homelessness, mental health and addictions. A full report is expected to be brought before Council by April 27, 2020. You can watch for updates at wetaskiwin.ca and follow what’s new at the City’s Facebook page.

Just Posted

Supporters gather during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Whistle Stop cafe in Mirror Alta, on Saturday May 8, 2021. The Whistle Stop was shut down by AHS for not complying with COVID-19 rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Police hand out tickets to dozens leaving anti-lockdown protest in Alberta

Hundreds gathered outside the Whistle Stop Café in the hamlet of Mirror, Alta.

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Alberta leads the Prairie provinces in being the first to take COVID-19 vaccine bookings for pre-teens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta leads Prairie provinces in accepting COVID vaccine bookings for pre-teens

The province begins accepting appointments for kids as young as 12 starting today

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
A judge has found an Edmonton woman guilty of manslaughter in the death of her five-year-old daughter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of 5-year-old girl

The woman was charged and pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and assault with weapons, including a belt and a spatula

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 2,042 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Dr. Karina Pillay, former mayor of Slave Lake, Alta., is shown at her medical clinic in Calgary on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
10 years later: Former Slave Lake mayor remembers wildfire that burned through town

Alberta announced in 2011 that an unknown arsonist had recklessly or deliberately ignited the forest fire

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman travelling from Alberta found dead in B.C. park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel’s approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

Wolf density in Jasper is low enough that the animals would not be expected to be a major threat

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)

Most Read