Temporary 30-bed emergency shelter announced in Saskatoon

Click to play video: 'Temporary 30-bed emergency shelter announced in Saskatoon'
Temporary 30-bed emergency shelter announced in Saskatoon
A 30-bed emergency shelter is planned for the former fire station in the Sutherland area of Saskatoon – Jan 19, 2024

A 30-bed emergency shelter is planned for the former fire station in the Sutherland area of Saskatoon.

The city said the temporary shelter at 421 Central Ave. can be expected in the spring for up to 18 months.

The Mustard Seed was confirmed as the organization chosen to run this emergency shelter.

Click to play video: 'Former Saskatoon fire station bad choice for shelter, councillor says'
Former Saskatoon fire station bad choice for shelter, councillor says

“There is a crisis of homelessness, both with increasing numbers of people who are without homes as well as the risks that come with colder winter temperatures,” fire Chief Morgan Hackl said.

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“The City has repeatedly asked the Government of Saskatchewan for further supports in Saskatoon; they have committed to just that, and the City is supporting the Province and this sense of urgency by agreeing to find emergency shelter locations for those experiencing homelessness.”

The city said it would still own the building and was proposing to lease it out to the provincial government.

Neighbourhood information meetings with representatives from the city, the province and the Mustard Seed will be held for residents and business owners in the area and the panel discussion part of the meeting will be recorded and available on the city’s website.

More information will also be discussed in the Feb. 28 city council meeting.

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“As part of the Provincial Approach to Homelessness, the Government of Saskatchewan has made a commitment to develop additional outreach supports to enhance safety and security around shelter facilities,” Hackl said.

“These supports will further improve safety around emergency shelters and other areas impacted by homelessness, mental health and addictions issues.”

Hackl said the station isn’t being fully utilized by the fire department and suggested that it was well set up to become an emergency shelter.

This announcement doesn’t come without some major concerns, as Coun. Darren Hill says he’s been fielding several calls from concerned residents in the area.

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He said it was surprising that the city administration and the provincial government had chosen a location for this shelter that was in the heart of a residential area.

Hill said he was hoping for a more strategic location, citing a lack of amenities in the area.

Click to play video: 'YIR Saskatchewan Homelessness'
YIR Saskatchewan Homelessness

“There’s a significant need, but we have to be strategic about where the homeless shelters are located because they do have an impact in a residential neighbourhood.”

He said this means the shelters should be located in an area that’s safe, along bus routes, but with some separation from residential areas.

Hill said he wants any discussion around homeless shelters to be in public, saying many of these discussions have been behind closed doors.

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“We should have engaged and had conversations with the community before we determined a location.”

He pointed to the ACT Centre, an indoor hockey rink right behind the station, saying this is not the ideal location for a new shelter.

The ACT Centre hockey rink in Saskatoon, located directly behind the fire station which was chose to be a new emergency shelter. Global News/ Brody Ratcliffe

“It’s interesting that I haven’t seen any recommended locations in neighbourhoods by the people making the final decisions where the homeless shelters are going. They’re not saying, ‘Put this in my neighbourhood,'” Hill said.

“The facility is needed, it’s just not needed right here.”

He said there was no strategy to include wraparound services to this facility, saying this location is a significant distance away from much-needed services and programs.

Hill described this approach as just “warehousing homeless people,” saying what they need to address is the programs and services for these people.

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“Not just a warm bed, but also services to help them as they’re going through the days ahead of them.”

Global News reached out to the provincial government for a response.

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