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Emergency shelter in west Edmonton to open Friday at reduced capacity

An estimated 2,750 Edmontonians are experiencing homelessness, and about 1,250 of them are sleeping in emergency shelters or outside each night.  (Kory Siegers/CBC - image credit)
An estimated 2,750 Edmontonians are experiencing homelessness, and about 1,250 of them are sleeping in emergency shelters or outside each night. (Kory Siegers/CBC - image credit)

After weeks of delays, a new temporary emergency shelter in west Edmonton is set to open its doors Friday at around 30 per cent capacity.

Once fully operational, the 24/7 shelter will have 209 shelter spaces, including 59 private transition beds and 150 congregate living spaces.

The facility, in a former hotel at 155th Street and Stony Plain Road, will be operated by Jasper Place Wellness Centre (JPWC) in partnership with Tallcree Tribal Government.

It was expected to be fully operational late last year.

Only the 59 bridge housing spaces will be initially available, city spokesperson Noor Al-Henedy said in a statement.

The remaining 150 congregate shelter spaces will open through January and February, she said.

"Administration has been working with JPWC to get the site opened as soon as possible so that additional safe and accessible shelter options can be made available for individuals experiencing homelessness," Al-Henedy said in the statement.

"There are many moving parts around this project, and delays around the finalization of agreements affected the opening date of the shelter."

The shelter was expected to be fully operational at the end of December. But, in a statement issued on Dec. 29, the city said the opening date would be delayed due to "unforeseen circumstances."

On Nov. 30, city council voted unanimously to approve $7.5 million in funding for the shelter as the demand for emergency housing continued to escalate.

Funding was pulled from the city's financial stabilization reserve. An announcement that day estimated the shelter would open within four weeks.

The shelter will remain open until May 31. The city funding for the facility remains unchanged, the city said on Wednesday.

The spaces the shelter will provide are considered critical as the city tries to address a shortage in shelter capacity this winter.

An estimated 2,750 Edmontonians are experiencing homelessness, and about 1,250 of them are sleeping in emergency shelters or outside.