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Community invited to Wednesday night's Transitional Housing Project information session

Location, funding and purpose of homeless facility on public agenda

Senior Lac La Biche County administrators will be on hand for Wednesday's night's (March 8) information session on the proposed Transitional Housing project.

The project includes the construction of a facility in Lac La Biche to offer shelter and programming for area residents struggling with housing insecurity, as well as social challenges. The purpose of the facility, its location, costs, and ultimate goals are expected to be part of the discussion at the meeting.

The public meeting will begin at 7 pm at the the McArthur Room in McArthur Place. The session is expected to include an update on the progress of the project, including the process and funding models that have taken place so far.

In recent weeks, Lac La Biche County councillors have gone back and forth on the proposed location of the facility. The latest decision approved land adjacent to the Alexander Hamilton Community Park. That same location faced substantial vocal backlash from community members at a public hearing on the proposed project a month ago. 

Other options over years of discussions on the topic, have included an area along 105 Street west of the Aurora Middle School and a downtown location near the Off-Campus school and the A&W restaurant. The project was initially said to have a budget of $650,000, including $150,000 from federal grant funding. To date, since the transitional housing task force began in 2017, just over $455,000 in municipal funding has been spent on the project, including the purchase and retrofitting of trailers, planning and engineering costs for the property, as well as utility upgrades needed to build the facility.

Several stages in the development and municipal planning process to build a facility at the Hamilton Park location have not yet been finalized.

Bonesville camp

A homeless camp created on municipal property in the Bonesville subdivision south of the Lac La Biche hamlet has been used as a temporary solution to shelter challenges for the last year and a half. That location is equipped with several sheds, serviced with heat and power to accommodate up to 24 people in need of shelter.  The Bonesville project has been a partnership between the municipality and the Metis Nation of Alberta. Almost $80,000 in Lac La Biche County funding has been spent on the Bonesville temporary camp since it was created in November of 2021. 

In recent weeks, the old Lac La Biche Curling Rink has also been included in the community plan to address homelessness. The municipal building is now being used as a shelter, expanding the size and programming of the Out of the Elements Shelter.

County staff at meeting

All aspects of the issue are expected to be ready for discussion at Wednesday's meeting. Senior municipal managers are expected to be joined by members of the community transitional housing task force to field questions and address comments.

For more information on the project, a municipal web-page is available at the Lac La Biche County website.

The Lac La Biche POST newsroom has also provided extensive coverage on the transitional housing project and the ongoing efforts to address people without access to proper housing in the community.

Wednesday's public session could be followed by other similar public event, as plans for the project are detailed, questions are addressed, and specifics are finalized. 

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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