"There are currently more than 2,750 unhoused Edmontonians and more than 1,250 of those people are sleeping in shelters or outside"
A temporary winter shelter in west Edmonton got unanimous approval from council on Wednesday as temperatures plummeted and snow fell on the city.
In a vote of 13-0, Councillors finalized $7.5 million in funding for the emergency shelter spaces, operated by the Jasper Place Wellness Centre.
It will take about a month to transform the Bedfort Hotel and Suites on Stony Plain Road and 155 Street into a 24-hour, 200 bed, respite from the cold.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the city is in a crisis, and there is a critical need for emergency shelter spaces, and permanent supportive housing.
“People don’t have a place to go and they’re dying on our streets, and they’re dying in the encampments without any support available. These are our neighbours, these are our fellow Edmontonians and they deserve to live and they deserve dignity,”
Council also unanimously voted to request an emergency meeting with the province on the “winter shelter crisis and shelter space gap in Edmonton.”
According to the motion, the province will need to act immediately because there are more than 1,250 people sleeping outdoors, 182 cases of shigella primarily in the unhoused community as of Nov. 30, shelter capacity is consistently over 95 per cent on cold nights, inequity between Calgary and Edmonton in the number of spaces, and people are dying in encampments.
Finance Minister Travis Toews said that more funding for homelessness in Edmonton might be coming in February's provincial budget.