Lloydminster City Council has voted in favour of a text amendment to allow a community support shelter.
On Monday, councillors debated the re-zoning bylaw concerning the Men’s Shelter and the warming space amidst the combined letter-writing and social media conversations that have been ongoing.
The text amendment will replace the temporary shelter definition with the term community support centre.
For weeks, social media has seen concerns about last year’s warming shelter and what transpired ranging from alarms at businesses going off during the night, to break and enters and criticism over the police and the City’s response. Letters to Council before Monday’s debate also reflect these concerns including human feces behind buildings and alleys, needles and sharps, feelings of unease, and public safety including that of children playing in neighbouring yards.
People packed the council chamber for the public hearing and submissions. Those in support included workers in recovery and social services and others who do not want to see a family member freeze to death, even though they are unable to house them because of their addictions.
Lloydminster does not have a detox unit at this time and both recovery services, the Thorpe Recovery Centre and Residents in Recovery require clients to be seven days clean before entering the program. Both services have wait times that are months long to get into treatment. Thorpe Recovery Centre re-opened in June after being closed for over a year.
Tyler Lorenz, executive director at Residents in Recovery says that having adequate shelter services in place “actually eliminates” the deleterious social issues.
“They’re fighting this bylaw that actually allows for the city to better monitor and regulate sheltering services. If you don’t have sheltering services, you’re going to continue to have those issues,” says Lorenz.
The debate on the Men’s Shelter and its proposed warming trailer is taking place coincidently in National Addictions Awareness Week which runs Nov. 19-25.
During the public hearing at council, businesses and residents spoke of their unease with the situation, while acknowledging the problem and even suggesting that the present trailer be moved from the Men’s Shelter to the Olive Tree parking lot. One person even queried whether the trailer was in compliance with existing bylaws.
Among those in favour were representatives from the Men’s Shelter.
Michael Davison, president of the Lloydminster Social Action Coalition Society that runs the Men’s Shelter said that both those for and against were not necessarily on the other side of the fence. He felt both groups identified the core issues of the unhoused, but would need to find common ground on the solutions. He says they will be looking to have better conversations with their neighbours and the community.
UPDATE: Officials with the City of Lloydminster indicate that the Men’s Shelter has submitted an application for discretionary use of its warming trailer located on its property during the cold months.The City will advise residents within 150 metres of the development which will be advertised. There will be a 21-day referral period after which the Development Authority will advertise its decision. The decision will be subject to a 14-day appeal period.