Streets Alive Mission to appeal stop order issued by City of Lethbridge

Streets Alive Mission has been zoned as a religious assembly under the City of Lethbridge’s land use bylaw for more than two decades.

But in November 2023, the faith-based organization aiding vulnerable people was issued a stop order to take effect in August 2024, for reportedly operating outside the scope of its development permit.

Ken Kissick, co-founder of Streets Alive Mission, said he was disappointed when he initially saw the order.

“We’ve had this permit for 20 years, and now they’re asking us to change it,” explained Kissick. “So, that’s precedent setting. Like when can they come in and tell me that the permits they’re asking me to apply for aren’t any good? That’s the confusing part of this.

“We have a valid permit and now you want to make changes to it? Why?”

City staff conducted numerous site inspections between Aug. 3 and Sept. 6, 2023, to determine if the activities taking place in the facility were within the religious permit that was issued on the property back in May 2000.

Following the review, the opinion from the development authority indicated that some of the activities taking place did not conform with the approved Use of Religious Assembly.

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A statement from the City of Lethbridge said, in part:

“After receiving a formal complaint of potential contraventions of the Land Use Bylaw, the City of Lethbridge’s development authority investigated the use of the property at 323 4 St. S. and determined certain activities fell outside the scope of the approved development permit.

“The development authority requested that Streets Alive comply with the land use bylaw by getting the appropriate development permit approvals by Oct. 31, 2023. When this did not occur, a stop order was issued on Nov. 10, 2023, requiring that Streets Alive apply for certain development permits or ceases certain activities by Aug. 9, 2024.”

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The city suggested that in order to bring the property into compliance, Streets Alive Mission would have to apply for the following development permits:

  • Medical and Health Office (Outpatient): As services offered at Streets Alive Mission include an Alberta Health Services (AHS) mobile community paramedic attending to patrons every Monday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Personal Service: As volunteers cut patrons hair and do lice treatments as well as provide foot care services.
  • Resource Centre: As the organization provides patrons with daily storage needs in the form of lockers, provides clothing through the People In Need (PIN) clothing bank, allows patrons to use the property’s location as a mailing address and provides a financial administration program.

Kissick says that the service over the years hasn’t changed and is unsure as to why the group has to apply for new permits, as members believe the organization remains within its permitted use.

“Land use bylaw definition of Religious Assembly is worship activities and everything we do is a worship activity for us,” said Kissick. “It’s been the church’s responsibility for a millennium to look after the poor.”

Streets Alive Mission has appealed the stop order, which will now go before the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB), an independent tribunal, that will render a decision based on hearing evidence at the public hearing on Dec. 21, 2023.

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