Homelessness a complex issue in Wetaskiwin, says Ministry of Seniors Qiam Noori, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Alberta Government remains committed to a solution to the homelessness issue in Wetaskiwin. 

While there has been dissatisfaction in the community over the emergency shelter, Ministry of Seniors, Community and Social Services said that homelessness is a complex issue. 

Alexandru Cioban, a ministry spokesperson told Pipestone Flyer that the government will continue working hard to support those impacted or are at risk of homelessness. 

“We will continue to collaborate and work closely with Hope Mission and the City of Wetaskiwin so the needs of the city and its most vulnerable can be adequately met,” Cioban said. 

Some in the community believe the shelter’s existence has increased criminal activities. 

Debby Hunker, a Wetaskiwin resident and shelter critic, leads a movement called ‘Wake up Wetaskiwin’ and says that the ministry ignores their voices. 

“They have had letters written to them by very unhappy citizens, myself included and they refuse to acknowledge that a mistake has been made,” Hunker stated. 

Hunker wants the provincial funding for the facility to be stopped, as she believes the shelter is not doing any good for the facility’s users. 

“They are confusing homelessness with addiction. This shelter is nothing more than palliative care for addicts,” She explained. 

According to the ministry, they found no issues with the shelter after a recent audit. 

“Emergency shelters funded by Alberta’s government are also required to follow the Homeless Shelter Accommodation Expectations (SAE),” Cioban said while adding, “The last shelter accommodation review in Wetaskiwin took place October 18, 2023. At that point, no issues were identified.” 

Last year, Hope Mission submitted a proposal to build a new, permanent building to the city council. 

According to the non-profit, the new building would have a limit of 62 shelter beds. It will cost around $6 million, to which the provincial government will contribute $3.25 million of the budget. 

“That’s the funding I would like to see stopped. The community does not support this shelter. People are coming from other provinces, and now we have inherited Leduc’s homeless population because their shelter shut down,” Hunker insisted. 

By Qiam Noori, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 24, 2024 at 11:29

This item reprinted with permission from   Ponoka News   Ponoka News, Alberta

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