Lethbridge City Council and City of Lethbridge staff care deeply about the wellness of our community and work hard to support the organizations that provide services to our vulnerable populations, particularly during extreme weather conditions.
Our residents are equally passionate about the safety of those experiencing homelessness and we understand the concerns expressed regarding the closure of an emergency warming centre at Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society.
The City did not close the warming centre. The Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society has made the decision to transition clients to the Alpha House Shelter, which has the capacity and resources to support these individuals.
The Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society opened its facility as an emergency warming centre to support unsheltered clients during the recent cold snap. We thank them for the efforts they have made to support our vulnerable populations.
"I have spent time at the warming centre recently and I commend the Friendship Society for all the work they have done," says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. "The community has really come together to make sure folks are looked after and their needs are met."
The City of Lethbridge is now coordinating with key partners including the Diversion Outreach Team (DOT), Alpha House and the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society to ensure a seamless transition process and ensure all vulnerable populations are adequately supported.
"Alpha House has always been supportive of unhoused individuals having options in terms of the services they are able to access, particularly in this cold weather and we appreciate all the work that has been done over the past few weeks to make that happen," says Kathy Christiansen, Executive Director of the Alpha House Society. "We will continue to work with our partners in the sector to ensure those that need shelter are able to access it. Demand at the Shelter has been high but we have not turned anyone away and we will continue to ensure anyone who wants to stay is able to safely do so."
Alpha House operates a year-round provincially-funded shelter with capacity to accommodate all unhoused clients, including those with complex needs and those who have tested positive for COVID.
Although the funding and operations of the Alpha House Shelter and the temporary warming centre are not within the jurisdiction of the City of Lethbridge, the City does continue to work with our partners to identify ways to improve the coordination of services and meet the needs of the community. This important dialogue is on-going.
In preparation for the possibility of extreme weather, the City proactively planned with key stakeholders to ensure adequate shelter space was, and continues to be available.
We thank the Friendship Society & all partners who provide the specialized skills and resources to best support Lethbridge.
For a list of resources available, please visit Extreme Weather Response.