New report suggests how to get ball rolling for new Edmonton wellness centre

City Hall in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. April 16, 2015. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

A new city hall report sets some targets on how to get an inner-city wellness plan operating in Edmonton.

The four-point plan proposes agencies update what’s needed by this fall and that they identify gaps in programs to assist vulnerable people.

It also sets a target to present an overall plan to city council in November to combine the work social agencies do and the wraparound services for Edmonton’s vulnerable population that will be needed, while taking the next six months after that to find the best ideas used in other cities to have the programming for the wellness centre set by June of next year.

“My commitment has been to make a strategic shift away from managing these issues to actually intervening and breaking these cycles,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters on Thursday.

Iveson said a change in attitude is already underway in how to approach the issue of addictions and substance abuse.

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“That very clearly involves looking at addictions and mental health challenges as health issues, not as criminal justice issues, and I think that’s why the police chief has talked about a wellness centre rather than a drunk tank.”

Chief Rod Knecht has said the former remand centre is well equipped to serve as a wellness centre because it has space to provide alternative programs for the individuals involved. For example, it has gym space for activities, medical and other health-care facilities and a kitchen to provide food service. He has also said he has philanthropists from the development community willing to offer labour and contractors to provide renovation work to convert the former jail into a more welcoming environment.

READ MORE: Old Edmonton Remand Centre eyed as possible site for new inner city wellness centre

Watch below: On May 15, 2017, Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht spoke to Gord Steinke about why he’d like to see the old Edmonton remand centre converted into a facility to help people struggling with homelessness and addiction.

Click to play video: 'Knecht wants old Edmonton Remand Centre turned into wellness centre' Knecht wants old Edmonton Remand Centre turned into wellness centre
Knecht wants old Edmonton Remand Centre turned into wellness centre – May 15, 2017

A series of reports heading to next week’s executive committee meeting of city council detail ways to spread supportive housing throughout the city, so as not concentrate it in the inner core.

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“The housing reports that are also coming next week are very important because it goes hand in glove,” Iveson said. “We need to break cycles and the way to do that is to move people into supportive housing.

“We need to distribute that around the city rather than (have it) over concentrated in the core. So it’s really an integrated approach to community and vulnerable person wellness.”

City councillors will also meet privately to discuss a report that will look at funding from other levels of government.

Read the full city report updating the work being done on a Community Wellness Centre below:

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