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City seeking public input on potential supportive housing projects

The city is looking for the public’s feedback on a pair of proposed supportive housing projects.

The projects would see a 42-unit facility located in the Avondale neighbourhood, and a 44-unit facility located Downtown, next to City Hall.

City of Grande Prairie Homeless Initiatives Supervisor Katherine Schmidt says the projects are currently in the pre-zoning phase, which includes gauging public interest and feedback.

“Right now with COVID we are giving people lots of options so that we can do social distancing,” she says. “People have an opportunity to email to ask questions, phone me directly, the can go on the community engagement website and sign up for an in-person meeting, or they can do a Zoom meeting.”

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In-person sessions are being hosted on September 3rd in the auditorium at the Ernie Radbourne Pavilion in Muskoseepi Park. Interested participants must register in advance for one of four 30-minute sessions starting between 3:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Two online Zoom sessions are scheduled for September 4th starting at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Registrants will be e-mailed a link to join the meeting before their designated start time.

The proposed 44-unit facility would require extensive renovations to the property at 10039 98 Street, while the Avondale project would have to be built from scratch. Schmidt says the city would seek provincial and federal funding to help with completion.

Schmidt says the city wants to take its supportive housing project from its pilot in the Parkside Inn to a stage that would see better-equipped facilities able to provide more services to vulnerable individuals.

“We’re looking to move forward with custom-built designs with higher levels of health services to meet both physical and mental health and addiction needs,” she says.

“We need housing in our city for our vulnerable population group and one of the things that we know just from doing programming around homelessness for over 10 years now is that there are individuals [who] need a higher level of support than what they can receive being in just an apartment.”

The initial plan for the new facilities would see 24-hour on-site staff equipped to offer specific aid to residing individuals such as home care, mental health therapists, and counsellors.

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