Sagitawa comes forward to support shelter

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

A new shelter in Peace River that kept the homeless off the streets at night over the winter has found continued support and funding.

As of April 30, the Sagitawa Friendship Society has taken over operating the Peace River Out of the Cold Shelter.

The society has received COVID-19 emergency response funding from The National Association of Friendship Centres and the Alberta Rural Development Network. The funding will allow the shelter to operate until Oct. 31, but it will continue to operate next winter as well.

The Out of the Cold shelter served 52 unique clients during 376 client visits from Jan. 12 to April 30. Clients ranged from 19 to 73 years old.

With some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in January, and a low of -54C one night, the shelter saved lives.

Five clients were also isolated and cared for during COVID-19 isolation and testing.

Thanks to the efforts of the shelter, a woman was able to move into a basement suite after six years without housing, and a man was able to move into an apartment after nine years without housing.

The shelter is now hiring staff and seeking more volunteers.

Meanwhile, Peace River town council also held a public hearing on a bylaw to allow second stage shelter housing in downtown Peace River.

The proposed housing is an expansion of the services of the Peace River Regional Women’s Shelter. Second stage housing allows women who have left an abusive relationship more independence while still getting support as they eventually move toward housing outside the shelter system. It acts as a bridge between short term emergency housing and long term independence.

One person submitted a written comment expressing concern the housing would affect parking. Development officer Alisha Mody says a minimum of four parking stalls can be provided at the proposed second stage shelter location, and possibly eight, but parking will be decided at the development permit stage.

Councillor Johanna Downing made the motion for second and then third reading of the land-use amendment, which is now passed.

“Put that on your list of accomplishments,” Mayor Tom Tarpey says to Downing.

The women’s shelter will now need to apply for a development permit for the second stage shelter.

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