The City of Lethbridge announced more space for its homeless population Friday to improve social distancing and access to self-isolation space.
Over the coming days, the Fritz Sick Gymnasium will transition into a temporary homeless shelter, adding extra space to better accommodate physical distancing guidelines.
The city said when the new space is operational, the current shelter will be used as a safe-sobering facility.
In addition, city staff announced that a block of rooms has been secured at a local motel to be used as a self-isolation unit for any homeless who fail COVID-19 screening protocols. The city did not disclose the motel that’s being used.
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“All agencies are working with the homeless population and are continuing to screen their clients for COVID-19 so they can be sent to the most appropriate housing location.
“In addition, anyone who’s tested negative for COVID-19 and is homeless is being considered for rapid housing,” said Jody Meli, the interim city manager.
Earlier in the week, the city also announced that residents would have the option to defer their city utility bills for up to 90 days by request.
So far, Meli said there have been a number of inquires into the 311 call centre from residents exploring their options.
As for property taxes, they’re still due at the end of June but the city said this week it continues to explore its options for support.
On Friday, Mayor Chris Spearman once again echoed the advice of public health officials and encouraged residents to stay home and practice safe social distancing when in public.
He also urged residents with any family gatherings planned over Easter to cancel them.
“I strongly discourage anyone from making those plans, and simply celebrate within your own households,” Spearman said.
“The last thing we need to do is harm our loved ones.”