Community Stories

A safe place for Red Deer’s most vulnerable

March 23, 2020

Dealing with COVID-19 and all the new rules and responsibilities that go along with it can be tough, even when you have a safe, warm home and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

When you’re living on the street and unsure of where your next meal will come from, it’s even more of a challenge. That’s why The City of Red Deer worked quickly to secure a temporary, safe space for some of our city’s most vulnerable.

“We knew we had to get a new location quickly,” says Kath Hoffman, Executive Director of Safe Harbour Society. “The City and Province worked fast and by Friday afternoon we were moving in. In the midst of the chaos there was efficiency. It was something incredible to watch." 

The City completed temporary emergency zoning to secure the former Cannery Row Bingo building at 5239 - 53 Avenue. The new facility will provide 75 overnight shelter mat spaces and capacity for up to 150 people during the day – all while maintaining two-meter social distancing recommendations. 

“I think we could operate a shelter and host a football game at the same time,” laughs Hoffman. “We’ve got tons of room, it’s great.”

The first day of operation saw 47 people utilize the overnight warming shelter and 150 during the day. Emergency zoning for the building will remain in place for six months, with costs covered by the provincial government. 

“People are working together and just trying to figure things out,” says Hoffman. “Everybody just wants to help. It’s awesome.”