Leduc's only homeless shelter may close if it can't find a new location as it faces a looming deadline for an expiring permit and lease.
The Leduc Hub Association is a charity that has worked for nearly 15 years to provide meals and shelter and help clients get government IDs.
The association provides a year-round overnight emergency shelter, 10 beds, and daytime navigation services.
The association provides a year-round overnight emergency shelter, 10 beds, and daytime navigation services. (Leduc Hub Association)
The association said the building permit for their current downtown Leduc location will expire in June. This would result in the hub needing to close on April 30.
"We're looking to city council right now to come forward with some courageous leadership and unify with us in public to ensure uninterrupted service for the people using our shelter," Susan Johnson, association executive director, said in an interview.
While the hub has applied for renewal, Johnson said there is concern public pushback will interfere with making the appeal successful as it is currently before the city's development officers for approval.
More than 350 residents made their voices heard in a community survey conducted by the association and released in 2023.
The association used survey responses to inform its mandate and services.
Respondents said there were issues with ensuring adequate, affordable housing and mental health and substance use support in the city.
The Leduc Hub Association is a charity that has worked for nearly 15 years to provide meals and shelter and help clients get government IDs. (Leduc Hub Association)
Some responses also outlined concerns about crime, drug use, and non-Leduc residents using association services.
"Misconceptions and misinformation ... impact the community and safety, and they do erode the support," Johnson said.
"We serve a need here, whether we operate or not, and so our clients are Leduc residents, and they deserve to be treated fairly as well."
Johnson said there has been a 60 per cent increase in the number of people seeking help with about 85 people using the association's services this past year.
Johnson said the lack of resources for mental health support has been a massive factor in the increase.
"We serve Leduc and the seven surrounding municipalities, and right now with, when our 10 beds are full, we offer [people] bus tickets, or transportation to another location. But quite often, they choose to remain in the city that's home for them."
Johnson said there are specific challenges that face homeless community members in mid-size Alberta cities.
"If we need to access a detox program, those are located in Edmonton and the wait lists are really long ... And that we run into the challenge of getting the people to those appointments and qualifying for those services," Johnson said.
Johnson said if accommodation capacity is reached, community members often have to find shelter elsewhere in the city.
A public hearing with city council will be held on Monday, with the association planning to attend to make their concerns heard.
More than 1,000 signatures have been gathered via an online petition to support the association's search for a new home.
Laura Tillack, deputy mayor for the City of Leduc, said in a public statement, "Although there has been some inaccurate information indicating city council has changed or is considering changes to its land use bylaw to restrict where the hub may operate, that is simply not the case."
Tillack's statement on Saturday noted the association is free to apply to extend its permit and is subject to the same terms and conditions that any other discretionary use applicant must follow.
"The city's development officers continue to work with representatives of the hub to help them understand and comply with this legislated process."
The city has worked with the hub as part of the Leduc Homelessness Task Force to address issues related to homelessness and poverty.
A report from the group looking at homelessness and poverty in Leduc is expected to be presented to council in late February.