Current Parkside residents will know where the supportive housing project is being moved to in a matter of weeks. The move comes after a two-year pilot project, utilizing the former motel as a hub for residents in need.
City of Grande Prairie Housing and Homeless Initiative Supervisor, Katherine Schmidt, says utilizing the Parkside motel as a supportive housing facility was never intended to be the permanent, long-term solution.
“The Parkside project was a two-year pilot project. We… are taking the learnings from the pilot and are going to be transitioning the residents into a future location that’s been identified.”
“I think there [are] a few things that went really well. The greatest learning is always from the residents themselves, and I think the residents, over a period of time actually teach us what they need,” she says.
Schmidt adds that over the course of the pilot, the city has added provisions to the project as the specific needs of its residents were discovered. One such being some individuals either not knowing, or having no desire to cook for themselves, and so outlets to provide food were introduced.
“Residents have [also] talked about what is important to them as far as dealing with their mental health and what supports they need,” she says. “Lots of changes have happened around that where there’s been an opportunity now to have tele-help that’s coming into the Parkside where the housing support workers are connecting them to doctors online.”
Schmidt adds the city is looking to begin transitioning residents out of Parkside sometime around the end of July 2021. Starting in January, all of the current residents working closely with their housing support workers on a transition plan to smoothly move over to the new facility.
According to Schmidt, throughout the two-year pilot, there were approximately 15 people who, either through their own volition otherwise, found the Parkside pilot was not a good fit for them.
She adds regarding supportive housing projects such as Parkside, there are, unfortunately, a great many common misconceptions that exist in the community.
“Oftentimes I hear people talking about someone that’s in a supportive housing project, that everyone there has got addictions, everyone there is a drug user, and that is definitely not true.”
“We have individuals in our community that struggle with mental health, they may be struggling with addictions, they may be struggling with physical health as well,” she says.
“On top of that, many of these individuals have years of homelessness and when you start looking at the toll that weather, the toll that being out on the streets can take on a person, even the toll that going through shelters over years and years can take on a person,” she says.
What the Parkside Inn will be used for once the supportive housing project is fully transitioned out will be up to the discretion of the building owner.