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Olds emergency shelter development permit approved

Since the land -- including an access road -- is town-owned, Coun. James Cummings wondered who will pay for the cost of maintaining access to the shelter on that property.

OLDS – Town council has approved a development permit for an emergency shelter, long sought by the Mountain View Emergency Shelter Society.

But that approval was not granted until after a lengthy discussion on shared roadway access was held March 28 primarily between Coun. James Cummings, development officer Shari Edgington and chief administrative officer Brent Williams.

The society has existed for about 12 years, but as of yet, has no facility to directly provide shelter itself. Clients have to be housed in other facilities in Rocky Mountain House, Red Deer or Calgary.  

The emergency shelter is slated to be built on a triangular piece of land at the south end of 50th Avenue at 54th Street, bordered by the CP Rail tracks.  

It will be called Kirsten’s Place in tribute to Kirsten (Gardner) O’Donoghue, who was killed in Bowden in March, 2021 in what is believed to be a case of domestic violence.  

The permit contains 28 conditions, including precisely where recycling and garbage bins will be located and how they’ll be set up.

Also, the location and set-up of those bins must be approved by the town’s planning and development department before they’re installed.

Edgington told council the building is expected to house about 30 people, including parents, children and staff members.

It was noted that access to the property will be shared between the society, those accessing the O.R. Hedges ball diamonds and the town, which, in the winter, will be using the far end of the property for a snow dump.

Cummings wondered who will cover the cost of maintaining the society's shelter access through the town-owned property.

“Since this is a shared road, the municipality would not look to upgrade that. That would be at the land owner’s discretion,” Williams said.

“But we would continue to maintain it in the same way as we always do. Based on traffic projections, we will still have the vast majority of traffic needs on that shared road.”

Infrastructure director Adrian Pedro confirmed that.

“At the end of the day – at least from an engineering perspective – we’d certainly look at future expansion of the property, what kind of volumes that would introduce to both the road and the intersection as well,” he said.

“At that point, we’d make a decision on what needs to be upgraded, if any, and what that cross section would look like.”

Coun. Heather Ryan wondered if the town has been maintaining that road in the winter.

Williams said up until now, the town has not done so but will be doing so to some extent in the future, because the snow dump will be accessed from time to time when snow is cleared from the Uptowne area.

Williams said if it snows on a Friday, snow dump access may not be “activated” until Sunday or Monday.

In that case, he said, if the society wants access to and from their property “they will be responsible for getting their own access. We won’t be providing that on-call service.”

However, he said, “practically speaking,” vehicles involved in snow clearing will likely be accessing that road frequently."

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