Options for formal public participation and advocacy to the Province, related to the futire permanent shelter, will be considering by City Council during their regular meeting on Monday.
The report comes after City Council directed administration to develop a public participation strategy that would inform decisions about the future permanent shelter. Right now, The City of Red Deer has very little formalized decision-making authority under the current agreement with the Province - the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) - which is the primary basis for the administrative public participation recommendations.
“This is a complex project, and we want to ensure our community can influence decisions about shelter in the best possible ways. Engaging citizens for the right reasons, at the right time in the right ways will help us not only ensure their input is considered in the process, but also help us rebuild trust at a time when people have told us the current process is not working for them, and they want us to do things differently,” said Tara Shand, Corporate Communications Manager.
After further exploring opportunities for direct influence within the scope outlined in the MOU, two options are being presented to council for consideration.
If City Council selects option A, The City will proceed with a government-to-government advocacy strategy that calls on the province to consult and engage with the community directly. In this circumstance, The City of Red Deer will not conduct any formal public participation until The City has formal authority over the decisions being made as it relates to land-use, such as through a public hearing process.
If City Council selects option B, The City will proceed with public participation on site selection with City Council initiating a public advocacy strategy to represent the views and perspectives of the community on shelter more broadly. Option B facilitates an indirect consultation process where citizens share their input with The City about what and how they would like to be consulted, and The City shares it with the province.
In both circumstances, two-way transparent communications will be critical with The City of Red Deer elevating its communication efforts in broad and diverse ways so that stakeholders, citizens, and the community feel informed and understand how they can influence decisions related to a future permanent shelter in Red Deer, regardless of whether those processes are province, or City led.
“As an organization, we are always working to engage with our community informally. We do this through a variety of means including everything from events to email, social media and on-street conversations. But public participation is about formalizing engagement. It is about informing a decision, and when we engage citizens in this process, we make a promise to consider their input in the decision-making process. When it comes to shelter, this is difficult because at this time, we have very little decision-making authority,” said Shand.
Over the last number of months, the topic of permanent shelter has been in front of council numerous times, with progress in some critical areas including but not limited to targeted public participation about a formerly proposed site, and the release of all reports, communications, and presentations from closed (In Camera) Council meetings throughout the project process thus far.
“We know there is support for shelter in our community; we know a shelter is needed,” said Sarah Tittemore, General Manager of Community Services. “How we get there is the unknown right now, but as an organization, we are committed to working with our community, and with the Provincial government to achieve the shared goal of an integrated, purpose-built shelter in Red Deer.”
The permanent shelter is a provincially funded project that aims to provide services needed by the community’s vulnerable population to support their journey into successful permanent housing.
For more information on shelter services in Red Deer, please visit www.reddeer.ca/shelter.
To access the Council agenda item report, and view the Council meeting live on Monday, May 9, visit https://meeting.reddeer.ca.
For more information, please contact:
The City of Red Deer