The City of Wetaskiwin’s emergency shelter is up and running despite a lack of partners.
The city decided to go it alone this year, funding the operation in the Civic Building downtown, also known as the old city hall. City council approved a budget of $65,000 for the emergency shelter, and Mayor Tyler Gandam confirmed Dec. 23 the city could find no partners to help them with the project.
Speaking to a number of reporters from the region, Gandam confirmed councilors approved the funding for the emergency shelter intended to help anyone in the city who doesn’t have a place to stay. He also noted no other avenues of funding have been found.
Last year a provincial grant of $40,000 was secured to help operate the shelter.
After approving the funds, council looked around the city for an agency to operate the shelter. Two offers were received, and the city decided to go with a local church, Lighthouse Fellowship, because its bid was the lower of the two.
The shelter will operate until Mar. 31, 2020 and opened on Dec. 1, 2019. A city press release noted the shelter is open every day from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and offers a warm, safe place for people to sleep. The generosity of local groups, businesses and individuals means some winter clothing is also available and some fresh food is available.
Emergency Shelter manager Lisa Saddleback, part of the Lighthouse Fellowship group, noted the shelter has seen an average of 10 people per night since Dec. 1.
Lighthouse Fellowship Pastor Vinjelu Muyaba said the shelter is free and open to all, and there is no religious component.
A city press release also stated councilors want to examine broader, long-term solutions for issues such as mental health, addictions and homelessness in the area and that staff will present a report on these subjects at the Apr. 27, 2020 council meeting.
The Civic Building is located downtown, across the intersection from the main Canada Post outlet. The address is 4904 51st Street.