Edmonton council greenlights plan to use former jockey dorms for bridge housing

City council unanimously approved a plan to redevelop vacant jockey quarters at the Northlands exhibition ground into temporary supportive housing.

Expected move-in date is late 2020

Images from inside the vacant jockey dormitory, located on the Northlands exhibition grounds, contained in a city report from May 2020. (Interim Housing Recommendations and Financial Implications/City of Edmonton)

Edmonton city council unanimously approved a plan Monday to redevelop vacant jockey quarters at the old Northlands racetrack into temporary supportive housing.

The city will lease the building to Homeward Trust so that it can provide bridge housing to 78 residents. People generally stay in bridge housing for one to three months, while details are worked out for them to move into permanent housing.

Prior to the vote, Ward 7 Coun. Tony Caterina, who represents the area, called on city staff to confirm that surrounding neighbourhoods will be consulted about the project.

With the approval of council, Homeward Trust is able to proceed with a $600,000 renovation project and securing a site operator. The building is expected to be move-in ready by late 2020, according to a report by city administration.

The plan to use the dorms was put in motion as operation of the Expo Centre as a day shelter is beginning to wind down. It opened as a shelter in March in response to the COVID-19 crisis and has been seeing about 700 people a day. 

The homeless count done in August 2019 found more than 1,600 people in Edmonton were considered homeless, from sleeping rough to staying in transitional housing.

The building will be leased for $1 a year for the next three years, with the option to extend it for two years beyond that. The agreement includes a 180-day termination clause, should the city decide to begin redevelopment of the area.


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