As the temperature plunges to a typical winter – 28 in Saskatoon, a new shelter is now open to help people with no place to stay indoors a chance to stay warm.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council welcomed the first clients to its new Wellness Centre and in the first 12 hours, Chief Mark Arcand says 36 people came through the doors.
More people showed up in the morning to avoid the extreme cold and the 46-bed shelter is now at full capacity.
Arcand says they knew the need was there and he says the biggest shout out goes to the City leadership for helping make the shelter happen.
“Basically they’ve waived all the costs of occupancy costs which are about $9,000 a month,” he says, plus, their staffing costs etc., moving people into until we’re done here probably in March or April pending weather moving forward so that’s about $80,000.
“So, if you look at all of that, it’s about 120 thousand dollars in-kind contribution from the city that’s making this possible.”
The Tribal council had aimed to open the centre on Dec. 13, but that was pushed back due to some required safety inspections not being completed in time.
But, the centre cleared the city’s requirements, just in time for the frigid cold.
With the shelter full after just one day—it proves the need for the shelter for Saskatoon’s homeless population is huge.
While the tribal council knows the centre is a temporary fix for the homelessness issue, Arcand says it has the potential to make a difference in the long term.
Arcand said people will not be asked to leave during the day, and the centre is to have 24 hour security, and drugs and alcohol will not be allowed.
The emphasis is on wrap-around supports like mental health and addictions counselling, as well as life skills opportunities.
The centre has laundry facilities as well as showers and will remain open for the next 5 months.