The Mustard Seed is proposing the creation of two new facilities in Lethbridge to help assist vulnerable individuals in the community.
“In that building, when we have it, it would offer employment services, advocacy services and counselling services to the residents in the building, but also one of the great things about the Mustard Seed is all of our services are available to the community at large,” said Byron Bradley, managing director at the Mustard Seed.
Bradley said the organization is looking at a site that is home to the Lethbridge Ramada Hotel and the adjacent Chinook Motel on Mayor Magrath Drive for an 86-unit permanent housing facility.
“We believe that the proposed location is one that would serve the needs of the community well, so we have begun that process for applying for rezoning and it would allow for multi-family residential and resource centre uses,” he said.
However, people who live in the neighbourhood fear the facility would result in a spike in crime, loitering and a drop in property values.
“I don’t understand why we have to have a facility like that in the heart of the city, in the heart of the businesses that are all going to be so drastically affected… it’s going to destroy this whole area,” said Curtis Allerd, a concerned resident in the neighbourhood.
The Lethbridge Lakeview Community Facebook group has also started a petition to stop the project from going forward. The group says it does not have an issue with additional supportive housing in the city, but does not feel the Lakeview neighbourhood is the right place for it.
As part of the rezoning process, the city will hold a public hearing where residents can voice concerns or support for the proposed facility. If approved, the Mustard Seed said it plans to have the facility open in the spring of 2021.
Another proposed facility, which the Mustard Seed said would be in a separate location, is a 45-bed sober shelter service.
“If people are wanting to be sober or they are not using substances… a lot of people affected by poverty don’t struggle with substance use and so they also need a safe and supportive place to go,” Bradley said.
The Mustard Seed said it is hoping to have that shelter up and running by the end of the month, but no location for the facility has been confirmed.