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$18M plan to turn Edmonton's Coliseum Inn into supportive housing one step closer

Coliseum Inn

A multi-million dollar project that would see an old hotel bought and converted into permanent housing for the homeless cleared another hurdle at City Hall Wednesday morning.

Edmonton's Executive Committee voted 4-1 to advance the project, which would see 98 permanent units created in the former Coliseum Inn building on Wayne Gretzky Drive.

The cost of the project is $18.3 million, with $11 million of that coming from the federal government's Rapid Housing Initiative. The city would contribute $7.3 million from its Affordable Housing Reserve.

"This is not an expenditure. This is an investment in people, making sure that they're able to heal, that they're able to get better, that they're able to live up to their fullest potential," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

"I'm really excited to support this motion. This project is going to meet an incredibly high need in our community," Coun. Anne Stevenson said.

The hotel has been used as bridge housing for people experiencing homelessness since April 2020. The conversion would add kitchenettes and allow residents to sign a lease.

A city survey that was done in 2017 found that Edmonton was short 900 supportive housing units. New data is being gathered, but officials expect that number to rise.


"Since the onset of the pandemic, overall homelessnes has increased. So we don't believe that there's a risk of these units not being needed. There are significant waitlists for supportive housing," said Christel Kjenner, the city's director of affordable housing and homelessness.

The plan is for non-profit Homeward Trust to buy the building and hire a partner "to oversee day-to-day operations, providing 24/7 onsite support for residents, including a range of health, wellness and life skills training," a city report said.

"There really is a dire need for more permanent supportive housing across the city. To me, this is a really fantastic example of inter-governmental cooperation," Coun. Ashley Salvador said.

"We desperately need this, as quickly as possible," Coun. Andrew Knack said.

"We are in the middle of a housing crisis. If you think back to that map that we saw that showed the number of encampments that were spread across every single part of our city, I've never seen anything like that."

Councillors Stevenson, Knack, Erin Rutherford and Mayor Sohi voted in favour of the project, which still requires final approval from City Council.

Coun. Jennifer Rice voted against recommending that council give final approval. Top Stories

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