No easy answers on homelessness

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Attendance hasn’t been so good at recent meetings of the Slave Lake Homeless Coalition. That was the news shared by Town of Slave Lake ouncillor Joy McGregor at the Sept. 8 town council meeting. The group has no chair, McGregor added, and it’s not clear who is the lead organization in tackling the homelessness issue, if anybody. Not only that, nobody knows who the actual ‘homeless,’ are, how many of them there are, what the factors are and what can reasonably be done about it.

One thing that comes up often is that many of the people in question are not from Slave Lake.

Another factor that’s come to light: people are stealing hand sanitizer for its alcohol content.

Councillor Rebecca King – who formerly chaired the Homeless Coalition – said you can have all the resources in place (addictions, mental health, housing, etc.), but if people don’t seek the help, what can you do?

“We need be clear about who’s doing what,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “Somebody’s got to lead the charge.”

Assuming the Friendship Centre is going to do it might be a mistake. King said helping the homeless is not even in the Friendship Centre’s mandate; it has more to do with the personal commitment of the executive director.

Meanwhile, the overnight homeless shelter for the winter months (Mat Program) is looking for a new home. The old Parent Link building (on 3rd Ave. NE) has been identified as a possibility.

Legacy Corporation – In other town news, mayor Warman reported that the board that oversees the Legacy Centre is working with the daycare operator on a request for rent forgiveness. The daycare was closed for a couple of months, so it had no money coming in.

“We have to agree to a reduction,” Warman said.

In the meantime, a federal grant is being applied for. The province was also asked about help. Warman said he was “unsatisfied with the response.”

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