Inn from the Cold backs off relocating shelter to Erlton
Community Association says family shelter came to the realization their plan didn't fit with community Area Redevelopment Plan.
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Community opposition has forced a Calgary agency that provides a sanctuary for homeless families to look elsewhere for a community setting where they can relocate.
Earlier this week, Metro was first to report on Inn from the Cold’s preliminary-stage idea to relocate to the Erlton site of Chinook Learning Services.
They said their current downtown location isn’t a great spot for their clientele – families with children – and were searching for a spot that provided more of a community feel.
Bill Fischer, chair of planning and development with the Erlton Community Association, said the proposed 50,000 square foot building didn’t meet specs in the neighbourhood's Area Redevelopment Plan (ADP).
“In the end, the membership voted unanimously to tell Inn from the Cold we weren’t interested,” Fischer told Metro earlier this week.
On Friday, Inn from the Cold confirmed they would no longer be considering the Erlton location for their proposal, but that it will continue searching for a more viable location to serve to Calgary families.
“Ultimately, we don’t want to get into a situation where we’re dragging a community through something contentious, like what’s happened,” said Inn from the Cold spokeswoman, Louise Gallagher.
Gallagher said that the unanimous decision at the recent Erlton Community Association meeting made them reconsider the pursuit of a partnership with the community for their “big idea.”
“Children need safe, secure housing. They need to live in a community where they are not stigmatized because of their limited resources or the housing status of their parents. They need to be supported by an entire village, not just a few people,” said Gallagher.
“We cannot ethically, nor morally proceed with undertaking the idea of moving our emergency shelter and service to a community where opposition has been vocal and loud.”
Fischer said Inn from the Cold’s decision may have resulted from a realization their plan wasn’t a good fit for the community.
“I think they finally realized that their proposal didn’t meet any of the land use regulations or policy guidelines because it was too massive for our community,” Fischer said.
He assured that the rejection of the plan had nothing to do with the facility itself, the clientele or the services provided and was strictly made on the basis of not meeting the ARP.
Fischer said it was possible another solution could have been found, but the ARP document indicated that should the Chinook Learning Services location be deemed surplus land by the Calgary Board of Education, the area is supposed to be turned into green space with a tot-lot and community garden.
Gallagher said Inn from the Cold had previously met with the now-former president of the area’s community association, at which time she said they expressed support.
Gallagher said they’d also received positive feedback from the planning and development member from Erlton.
“We were taken completely by surprise, so we haven’t really looked anywhere else,” she said.