Edmonton Convention Centre shelter will include safe consumption site

The 24/7 winter shelter at the Edmonton Convention Centre, which opens Friday, will include a safe injection site for clients, Boyle Street Community Services announced. 

Boyle Street Community Services to temporarily close existing site at downtown centre

Some 85,000 square feet at the Edmonton Convention Centre will be used as daytime and overnight shelter space from Oct. 30 to March 31. (City of Edmonton )

The 24/7 winter shelter at the Edmonton Convention Centre, which opens Friday, will include a safe injection site for clients, Boyle Street Community Services announced. 

Jordan Reiniger, Boyle Street Services executive director, said the agency will relocate the existing supervised consumption site from downtown to the Edmonton Convention Centre. 

"As an agency, we go where the need is," Reiniger told media at the Edmonton Convention Centre launch Thursday afternoon. 

"This relocation is in response to where we see the most significant need for these services in our community," Reiniger said. 

Boyle Street is one of four agencies contracted to operate the convention centre, along with the Mustard Seed, Bissell Centre and the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.

Boyle Street will manage a range of medical services with nurses and medical technicians on hand to treat wounds, and provide other services like foot care.

Services will include a 24/7 opioid response team, Reiniger noted. 

Boyle Street is also screening clients for COVID-19. 

Workers will do a verbal questionnaire with all clients entering the premises and then do a temperature check. Anyone with symptoms will be sent to isolation space, Reiniger said. 

Jackie Foord, manager of social development, said the Edmonton Convention Centre will welcome 100 people Friday and 300 by next week. 

Halls A, B, and C on the Assembly Level, totalling 85,000 square feet, will be used for the temporary accommodation.

It's costing $8 million in federal and provincial COVID-19 funding to run the convention centre shelter. 

The city is contributing $500,000 from the 2020 budget to help run the shelter. 

Camp Pekiwewin 

Foord said the city is working out the logistics to help move campers from Camp Pekiwewin in Rossdale to the convention centre or another shelter. 

Outreach workers will give campers information on how to transition, she said but Foord acknowledged some will hesitate to move from the freedom of their own camp. 

"A tent is not a good place to be in winter and it's certainly not a good place to be in a pandemic," Foord said. "So we will be encouraging those folks to take shelter indoors with all the various options we have available now."

About 700 emergency shelter spaces in total are available for those needing a place, food and services, the city said. 

Other shelters opened this year include a 24/7 southside shelter run by Mustard Seed for 120 people. 

Hope Mission is running an overnight shelter in a section of Commonwealth Stadium to replace space previously used at the Central Lions Senior Centre. 

Hope Mission is working with the city to turn the Commonwealth pod into an all-day operation. 

The bridge housing at Exhibition Lands will open next week to help 36 people transition to more permanent housing, city council heard Wednesday. 

The Coliseum Inn's bridge housing program has 98 units.

Foord said another hotel south of the river is expected to open as a shelter in the coming weeks. 

"There are more than enough indoor spaces for folks who are sleeping rough to come in from the cold and receive services that will lead to more permanent housing," Foord said.