Fire station with supportive housing? Edmonton councillors support unique project

A plan to combine a new fire hall with 64 units of supportive housing in southeast Edmonton received an early thumbs up from councillors Tuesday.

The Walker Fire Station was originally planned to be a standalone building on Ellerslie Road and Watt Boulevard SW, but a city committee unanimously approved the redesign to include affordable housing above the fire hall.

"I think we need to look at all the opportunities and options that are available for us to create more supportive, permanent supportive housing as well as affordable housing," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said after the vote.

The change will increase the cost of the project from $24.5 million to $55.7 million.

The plans still need approval from council and setting aside money for it will be part of budget discussion in the fall.

City administrators looked at other projects in Calgary, Vancouver and in the United States and concluded that the concept "has a high likelihood of success."

A recent survey found there are at least 2,800 people without shelter in Edmonton.

The project could be completed as soon as 2027, and would include space for EMS as well.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Councillors Tim Cartmell, Michael Janz, Keren Tang and Jo-Anne Wright all voted in favour of moving the plan forward.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson