It's all hands on deck during the pandemic. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced on Friday, March 20 that the Edmonton EXPO Centre will be turned into an overflow homeless shelter for the foreseeable future. This move is in order to contain the spread of the virus amongst the city's homeless populations.
Premier Kenney made the statement in an address by the Alberta Legislature, according to the Edmonton Journal. Alberta Health Services will also be involved in managing the crisis among homeless populations in the city.
They will be coordinating with Homeward Trust, a homelessness support organization based in Edmonton, Alberta. The organization will also be sharing their resources for this operation.
Iveson claimed to have proposed to the provincial government that a city facility could be used as an overflow homeless shelter if needed. He'd also added that other city buildings, such as recreation centres, can also be used for similar purposes, as most of them have been closed to the public.
For those of you who are not familiar, the Edmonton EXPO Centre is a massive venue.
Its capacity chart, broken down on the website, lists that some of the halls in the venue can hold as many as 3,500 people.
Their venue guide describes the centre as "a choice destination for the biggest shows of the season as well as private galas and weddings."
Because the EXPO is always hosting large-scale events, they've had to make some changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Non-essential venues in the province cannot have more than 50 people at once, as outlined in the new measures being implemented under Alberta's state of emergency.
The EXPO announced on Monday, March 16 that they were shutting their doors to the public, as part of their COVID-19 response notice.
The notice also listed about 17 events that have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
Based on the latest update by Jason Kenney, it seems like they will be opening their doors after all, but only to act as a makeshift shelter.
Global News reported that the Emergency Management Committee took recommendations this morning to arrange back-up locations to host prospective quarantined individuals among the homeless.