Vote NO to the rezoning of the Lethbridge Ramada Hotel into a Supportive Housing facility

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December 9th, 2020 - Update At bottom of page. 

Petition Posted December 6th, 2020

Vote NO to the rezoning of the Lethbridge Ramada Hotel and Chinook Motel on Mayor Magrath Drive becoming a Permanent Supportive Housing Shelter

On December 1, 2020 the Mustard Seed (based out of Calgary) and Alvin Fritz Architecture (Alvin Fritz)  delivered letters to residents within 60m of the Ramada Hotel and Chinook Motel to notify them of their intention to submit a rezoning application for the properties. Once rezoned, the Mustard Seed plans to buy the properties and turn them into a 86-unit “Permanent Supportive Housing Shelter” for individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty with drop-in access 24/7. It has been termed a sober facility but the program led by the Mustard Seed is not labeled “dry” as residents will be able to consume alcohol and cannabis responsibly if they do not have any previous addictions. Funding for this project will be through the Rapid Housing Initiative with the Federal Government. To our knowledge this would be the largest single site operated by this organization in our province and the first they have operated in our community.

Not only were residents within 60m informed of the impending rezoning application process by mail with less than 1-2 business days to respond to Taylor Kawaguchi and Alvin Fritz, but Taylor from the Mustard Seed was not available by phone or email as she was out of the office until December 7th. Typically, the rezoning process involves hosting an informal open house but someone made the decision that informing residents living within only 60m of the hotel by a mailed letter was satisfactory enough.

To be clear, this petition is NOT about stopping additional supportive housing options for vulnerable populations. What it IS about is showcasing why the Ramada Hotel and Chinook Motel property is a poor location.

Residents in the surrounding area are vehemently opposed to the Rezoning Application of 1303 Mayor Magrath Drive to become a Mustard Seed for reasons including:

1.)     Proximity to Schools and other childcare facilities

The new Mustard Seed site would be right in the middle (within 2-3 blocks) of schools including:

·       Lakeview Elementary School

·       Our Lady of the Assumption Elementary School

·       Gilbert Paterson Junior High School

·       Lethbridge Play & Learn Pre-School

·       Daycares and Day homes

Many children walk the route along 12 Avenue South in between Gilbert Paterson and Lakeview Elementary of which the proposed Mustard Seed location is essentially next door to.

2.)     Density

The amount of people to be housed in this proposed location is much too large for one area in Lethbridge. Transitional shelters across BC in similar community-sized populations or much larger populations have been much smaller in size and located in more suitable locations where other support services are based and where schools are not in close proximity.

3.)     Safety

The successful application to rezone 1303 Mayor Magrath Drive South to become a Mustard Seed would concentrate a high number of new residents (86-unit building) into one area, many of whom may suffer from substance abuse and mental illness. This doesn’t include the additional visitors to the 24/7 access center and those who will now frequent the area.

·       25-50% of the homeless population in Canada suffer from mental illness  

·       Studies in various Canadian cities indicate that between 23% and 67% of homeless people report having a mental illness.

·       Toronto study reported that homeless individuals with substance or mental health conditions recorded, 75% had disorders due to psychoactive substance use, 23% had personality disorders, 23% had schizopherenia, 22% had mood disorders and 9% had neurotic/ stress related disorders.

These statistics are not provided to demean those with mental illness or addiction. They do however highlight a relevant impact on the surrounding community to consider as the occupancy of this building is so high.

4.)     Property Crime

The presence of a shelter has shown to cause property crime to increase by 56% for residences and businesses within 100m of its location including thefts from vehicles and homes as well as general vandalism driving the increase.

Reported theft in the City of Lethbridge is documented and tracked but petty theft is rarely investigated at length. This combined with the LPS having its budget cut by $1,000,000 in 2021 will only increase the risk to the surrounding area.

5.)     Property Values

7-18% decrease in property value for residents that live withing a 500m proximity of a homeless shelter or similar-type of center. The Mustard Seed and Alvin Fritz deemed it acceptable to only notify residents within 60m of the site. This proposed location of the Mustard Seed along Mayor Magrath will undoubtedly have a wide-reaching impact on the community.   

If you agree with one, two or all of the statements below concerning the proposed rezoning of the Ramada and Chinook Motel locations to become a Mustard Seed, please sign this petition and encourage City Council to reject the proposed rezoning application. Your feedback needs to be heard! Your elected Mayor and City Council are the ones that will either accept or reject the rezoning application.

1.)     I would be fearful for my own/ my family’s safety and experience anxiety and/or stress.

2.)     A project of this magnitude is much too large for any location in Lethbridge.

3.)     A Mustard Seed-type of shelter should not be so close to multiple schools and poses a serious safety issue.

4.)     I would consider moving from the Lakeview area as the risks living near a Mustard Seed are too significant to ignore.

5.)     Mitigation strategies proposed by the Mustard Seed and Alvin Fritz Architecture would not be realistic, cannot be guaranteed and will not be accepted.

6.)     Only providing notice to residents within 60m of the proposed site is completely unacceptable and I feel Alvin Fritz Architecture and The Mustard Seed is trying sneak the rezoning through and is using the current pandemic to avoid necessary public consultation.

7.)     I feel that Lethbridge needs programming to support both the homeless population and those who struggle with addiction. I do not however feel that this location or the magnitude of this project in this proposed location are conducive to running a successful program of this nature.

Please write to City Council and local government officials:

Link to Lethbridge City Council Contact info: https://www.lethbridge.ca/City-Government/City-Council/Pages/Contact-City-Council.aspx

Contact City Council

​​Mayor Chris Spearman: ​Office: 403-320-3823  mayor@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Mark Campbell: Cell: 403-360-0808​ mark.campbell@lethbridge.ca
Councillor Jeff Carlson: ​Cell: 403-360-7550 jeff.carlson@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Jeff Coffman: ​Cell: 403-315-9092 jeff.coffman@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Belinda Crowson: Office: 403-320-4276​ belinda.crowson@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Blaine Hyggen: ​Cell: 403-380-9530 blaine.hyggen@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Joe Mauro: Cell: 403-330-1522 joe.mauro@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Rob Miyashiro ​Cell: 403-360-5000 rob.miyashiro@lethbridge.ca
​Councillor Ryan Parker:​Res: 403-380-4848 Cell: 403-360-8880r yan.parker@lethbridge.ca

Sources:

-          Mental Health Commission of Canada

-          Toronto: Mayor’s Task Force on Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Additions and Homelessness

-          CAMH

-          2018 Journal of Experimental Criminology

-          BC Housing.org

 

Update December 9th, 2020

On December 6th, a petition was launched in opposition to the rezoning of the Ramada Hotel & Chinook Hotel into a Supportive Shelter. The information provided in the petition was primarily gathered from the Notice Letter sent out by the Mustard Seed and Alvin Fritz Architects to residents within 60m of the facility, City Council Power Point and studies published online regarding homelessness in Canada. Since the launch of the petition, Taylor from the Mustard Seed has provided community members with some clarification and apologised for confusion caused.

Some points to clarify about the initial petition due to additional information received since:

The petition indicates that the rezoning of the Ramada is to become a “Permanent Supportive Housing Shelter” which was incorrect because it will not be a shelter. It will be a Permanent Supportive Housing facility for different sub-groups in Lethbridge’s homeless community.

A cause of confusion was that the Mustards Seeds Power Point outlined both the Permanent Supportive Housing facility and the Sober 24/7 shelter to be put in Lethbridge but did not identify that they would be in separate locations. The possible location(s) for the Sober 24/7 shelter has not been released by the Mustard Seed yet.

The petition remains against a Permanent Supportive Housing facility at 1303 Mayor Magrath Drive for all the original reasons listed. Again, this petition is NOT about stopping additional supportive housing options for vulnerable people such as the homeless. It IS about showcasing why the Ramada Hotel and Chinook Motel property is a poor location. Just because we don’t support the rezoning of the Ramada does not mean that we are opposed to the Mustard Seed finding another location in the city. This is an important distinction and not for the sake of “being NIMBY”.

The Ramada Hotel and Chinook Motel are not considered to be a suitable location for the Mustard Seed’s Permanent Supportive Housing facility because of close proximity to multiple schools and other childcare facilities, its building density (high occupancy permit allows up to 160 people) and the associated risks in the Lakeview area of an increase in property crime, safety concerns and decrease in property values.

New updates:

Our Lakeview community group was recently informed that the maximum occupancy specified on the re-zoning application is 160 people for the 86 units between the Chinook Motel and Ramada hotel buildings. Visitors will be welcome by appointment and must follow the rules while in the Mustard Seed facility.

The City of Lethbridge’s 2019-2025 Municipal Housing Strategy: Lethbridge Housing Needs Assessment document outlines the issues our city is facing.  https://www.lethbridge.ca/living-here/Our-Community/Documents/Lethbridge%20MHS%20Needs%20Assessment%20Feb%2022%202019.pdf

A quote on Page 11 of the document (p 14/110):

“A business case report for a proposed supportive housing facility found the sub-groups in highest need for supportive housing in the shelter system were:

1.)     Individuals with substance abuse issues

2.)     Individuals with high recidivism*

3.)     Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mental health, and/ or medical conditions

4.)     Individuals who have been exposed to trauma “

*Recidivism is defined as the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.

We feel that the combination of the sub-groups identified in the City of Lethbridge’s own Needs Assessment and the high building occupancy of the proposed Ramada and Chinook Motel site poses a significant risk to the surrounding area.

This update has been emailed to anyone who has signed the petition to make sure everyone is informed. If you have signed this petition already (or are just reading this now) and have not written a letter to the Mayor and City Council yet, please take the time to share your opinions respectfully. All contact info for the City can be found in the petition.