Questions and answers on road to Westmount supportive housing development

If you have a question about the plan to build a supportive housing complex in Westmount, you are not alone. 

A recent City of Edmonton live-streamed town hall meeting featured a range of those questions—and 90 minutes of answers.  

Everything from what size the shadow cast by the building would be…to who would be living there…to whether supportive housing leads to crime and lower property values. 

“Supportive housing needs the support of the community, and that happens in conversation,” said Brendan Pinches, who is the Program Manager for Affordable Housing and Homelessness with the City of Edmonton.

 “If you have a question, chances are it was asked during the livestream. One way to join the conversation is to go to the livestream recording, click on the question timecode and listen for yourself.”

Another way to ask a question is via 311. Or though email at: supportivehousing@edmonton.ca

Here’s the livestream recording: 

Click on SHOW MORE in the video description to get a full index of the questions asked.

You’ll see that the questions fell into five or so categories. 

Questions about existing neighbourhood

What is your definition of supportive versus transitional housing? One is integrated into the community. The other is something that will change the face of this community forever. 

How does this development fit into the Westmount-Inglewood Area Redevelopment Plan?

What is the impact on property values?

How are the community’s needs considered in this process?

What has Westmount Junior High School said about this development?

Questions about supportive housing itself

What is the efficacy of supportive housing and why is a more permanent place to stay long-term considered to be a model that can help end homelessness?

What is a Good Neighbour Plan? 

Wouldn’t the money be better spent on hotels or building costs on surplus lands already owned by the City?

What is the City’s inventory of land? What kind of constraints are we operating with?

What is the long-term plan for maintaining the supportive housing developments in the city? 

In the City’s overall plan for supportive housing in Edmonton, where will the total 900 units be developed? 

Can Homeward Trust speak to examples of positive, proactive community relationships in other communities?

How are we tracking the successes and failures of this housing in general?

Three vacant houses on 130 Street at 110 Avenue are to be replaced by a supportive housing development.

Questions about crime and policing

How does supportive housing impact the level of crime in a community? Do police receive more calls to a neighborhood when it has supportive housing?

Will supportive housing residents be screened for prior drug offenses or crimes against children?

Are the police reactive or proactive in their relationship with supportive housing developments?  

An aerial view of the three parcels of land in Westmount.

Questions about particular site, development

How did the City decide on the number of units (54), and is that number allowed by zoning requirements?

Are there any concerns with this number of units from a supportive housing model perspective?

Why aren’t the gardens and bike parking in the back of the property?

Will the content of the City’s land sale agreement with Homeward Trust be made public prior to the March 1st Executive Committee meeting so the public knows what City Council will be voting on? 

Why is public engagement taking place after the land sale?

Will the City apply for future rezoning on the site? 

Could the development one day be built higher than the current design for four storeys? 

Will crews that demolish the existing structure be reliable, safe and professional?

Does the City set minimum maintenance standards? 

What will the impacts of the shadow from the building be?

What will the sewer impacts be? 

Are there concerns about the capacity of the fire hydrant system? Who is paying for any upgrade? 

What happens to the land if Homeward Trust takes ownership of it, but the development is not built? 

Why do we think anything above 30 units would be okay?

Will deliveries be made off of 111th Avenue to avoid blocking the street and alleyway?

Do you think it might be a good idea to include a few community representatives, perhaps from the community league, to be part of the operator selection process?

Three vacant houses on 130 Street at 110 Avenue are to be replaced by a supportive housing development.

Questions about people

How are residents selected? Are there conditions and can they be evicted?

These individuals are largely unemployed, have mental health issues and addictions to drugs and alcohol. Why would the city push this into a family-oriented community and have these individuals filtering out to our parks and alleyways?  

What do the homeless that are now housed do all day? 

Do residents have jobs or volunteer?

What’s next? 

On March 15, 2021, Edmonton City Council is scheduled to make a final decision on the proposal to sell the land to Homeward Trust for the Westmount supportive housing project

Thanks for reading and watching and asking questions.

Clicking on the SHOW MORE tab in YouTube reveals the full range of questions, and quick timecode links that take you to the answers. This is just the first five questions.

By the way, Westmount is not the only community where supportive housing is being proposed. The City hosted two virtual question-and-answer sessions for the first four sites last summer. 

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post is a screenshot of a livestream conducted February 25, 2021, on the City of Edmonton’s YouTube page. Answering questions, clockwise from top left, are: Brendan Pinches, Program Manager, Affordable Housing and Homelessness, City of Edmonton; Mike Kuntz, Project Manager, Integrated Infrastructure Services, City of Edmonton; Insp. Daniel Jones, Edmonton Police Service; and, Emily Dietrich, Chief Programs Officer, Homeward Trust. The livestream was moderated by Kelta Coomber, Senior Engagement Advisor, City of Edmonton.