Whitehorse residents want better solutions for government-run emergency shelter

A government-run emergency shelter in Whitehorse is drawing the ire of nearby residents and business owners.

The former Salvation Army Centre of Hope was taken over by the Yukon government earlier this year with promises of improving service quality to meet residents’ needs.

But locals say it’s common to see public intoxication and fights– and they’re not happy with the City of Whitehorse’s plan to address the situation.

At a recent Whitehorse council meeting the city voted to spend $150,000 on benches, planting beds and trees around the building as part of a beautification project.

Neighbours of the shelter say that money could be put to better use, such as in programming for shelter clients.

Christine Tapp, the territorial government’s director for the social supports branch of its department of social services, says they are working to provide more programming in all areas of wellness for the centre’s residents.

“I think we’ve taken a bit more of an active approach to our programming in the past month or so and we have plans to expand that further into the fall, including reassigning a couple of staff members to focus just on programming and to actually work with our guests to develop and to lead some of that programming,” she said.