Saskatoon Tribal Council proposes location for temporary warming shelter

The Saskatoon Tribal Council is proposing a downtown location for a temporary location for an emergency wellness centre.

Its goal is to provide shelter for the city’s homeless during cold winter months.

The STC hopes to have the shelter open within two weeks.

Up to 50 people will be able to get out of the cold in the 850 square metre space.

That’s welcome news to Alyssa who has stayed at city shelters including Lighthouse and the Salvation Army.

“I have stayed in the dorms like, there’s just a big room with other people,” she says. “It can be hard to sleep because of all the commotion going around.”

STC Chief Mark Arcand says it will be more than just a shelter offering everything from help with social assistance to advice on banking and rent.

Arcand says most importantly, the shelter will offer health supports aimed at getting people off the streets.

“We really want to stress the mental health and addictions piece,” he says. “So how do we work together and support them and this is why Possibility Recovery is here to have those one on one discussions, there’s a little room inside where they can have private discussions and do that kind of stuff, so it’s very important.”

Melissa Smith with The Lighthouse, “a charitable, non-profit housing provider that offers affordable housing, supportive living, and emergency shelter for adults in Saskatoon,” that has been around since 1992 according to its website, says the new shelter is welcome news.

“I would hope that while we’re working on the short-term solutions and life-saving over the winter months, that we’re also at the same time looking at those long term solutions for more affordable housing, revising our CIS model and that’s social assistance, and investing in the supports that people need in order to stay housed,” she says.

With recent snowfalls and temperatures to be below -10 for the foreseeable future, Alyssa is looking forward to having another place to go.

“It’s really frustrating to find a place to lay your head and there’s not a lot of warm-up locations,” she says.

STC says the approval process could be fast-tracked if the city called an emergency meeting to deal with the issue.