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Last updateFri, 20 Sep 2019 10am

Homelessness report released, third of respondents are housing insecure

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Results from a province-wide rural homelessness study is shedding light on housing stability in Drumheller, and local social workers are saying its confirming what they already see here.
    The 2018 Rural Homelessness Estimation Project gathers together survey feedback from 20 rural communities in Alberta taken in October last year, in an effort to estimate homelessness in our smaller communities. Surveys were completed by people who used living assistance programs like the local food bank or the local support services office.
    In Drumheller, of the 83 respondents, 26 indicated (31 per cent) they had “unstable housing,” meaning difficulty paying rent, spending a major portion of their income on housing, moving frequently, or living in overcrowded conditions. Most people (14) said this was due to low income, and eight said it was because they were unable to pay rent, or had recently lost their job (6).
    Salvation Army’s community and family services director Jenessa McAuley says the report “legitimizes several factors we are already perceiving.” She says people who are in need of assistance may not look like it at first.
    “It is important to note that 44% of survey participants who identified themselves in an insecure housing situation indicated they are employed. We must be ready to challenge our pre conceived notions about who is in need within out community and the factors contributing to that need,” McAuley said.
    The report says what was made clear from the study is that rural and remote-community housing instability and homelessness existed in all 20 of the surveyed communities, indicated it is widespread across the province.
    “More research on rural and remote homelessness, in both the Drumheller area and across the province, as well as commonalities shared, in order to inform best practices and local solutions,” it reads.
    A housing sub-committee has already been established as part of a poverty reduction strategy in Drumheller, McAuley said. They will use the results of the report to develop an action plan to try and address homelessness and housing insecurity in Drumheller.

Dinosaur Trail golf club up for sale

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The Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club is looking for a buyer.
    This comes after ATB Financial called its loan to the golf course. The Board of Directors had a meeting last Monday, August 26 to explain its financial situation to its membership.
    Golf course manager Greg Morrow tells the Mail the Golf and Country Club has been struggling financially. This season the club was having a strong season financially, and was current on its loan payments. Despite this, ATB decided to call the loan.
    “As much as we struggled to generate enough revenue to build a reserve account to put money into the infrastructure, we were doing very well this year,” said Morrow. “That is the disappointing part for me.”
    At this point, the board is now looking for potential buyers for the golf course and Morrow says there has been some expression of interest to purchase the property.
    In the long run, he says this might be the most viable solution for the long term goal of keeping the course in Drumheller.
    “In many ways… the best thing for the future of the golf club is to have it owned by someone with deeper pockets than we do,” said Morrow.
    He says there are very good opportunities for an investor to look at the golf course with the potential for more development.
    “As much as it is disappointing we are closing the book on that chapter, I am very optimistic about the future,” he said.
    In the meantime, Morrow said it is business as usual at Dinosaur Trail Golf and County Club and they are aiming to be open until the end of September for the season, or further into the season depending on weather.

Council cautions residents over RCMP alarm policy change

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At the council meeting on Tuesday, September 3, Director of Protective Services Greg Peters briefed council on the changes to the RCMP alarm policy. The new policy is regarding

responses to property alarms. The new policy states that police will verify an alarm before

responding and will not respond to alarms only triggered once.

“In 2017 the RCMP in Alberta responded to approximately 15,500 false alarms consuming approximately 8,000 hrs of resource time and therefore it was felt that a change in policy was needed,” explained Greg Peters Director of Protective Services. “A verified alarm means an alarm where a possible criminal offence may be occurring or has occurred, as determined by, but not limited to, an eyewitness, real-time video observation, or two or more zones being activated.”

“These changes pose a significant change to the RCMP response to alarms and we wanted to ensure the public and council were made aware of the changes,” added Julia Fielding,

Communications Officer. 

“If anyone has any questions about what this change means to them, feel free to contact the RCMP or Protective Services at the Town of Drumheller.”

The K division Alberta RCMP policy states they ‘seek to ensure public safety by responding to all panic, duress, ATM, multi-zone, glass break, holdup, domestic violence and verified alarms, including any alarm at a school or financial institution during business hours.’ This essentially reflects the RCMP national policy that has been in place since at least 2017. The force states that false alarms have been identified as consuming a significant quantity of police service resources so these protocols were adopted.

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