Saskatoon Tribal Council‘s (STC) Emergency Wellness Centre will stay open a while longer as city council voted to extend the centres’ lease for another 12 months.
The vote was unanimous throughout council at a quick session held Wednesday afternoon.
The wellness centre on 1 Ave. N in downtown Saskatoon has 75 beds for the homeless people. Since opening last December, it has been consistently full. Tribal Chief Mark Arcand previously told Global News the services are much needed in order to combat homelessness and drug use throughout the city.
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However, residents and business owners in the downtown core have raised concerns about the shelter’s location. Some say people around the centre have been openly using drugs causing them to feel unsafe. To offset the concerns, the wellness centre added more voluntary peacekeepers to patrol the building — residents of the shelter themselves.
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Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark stressed his support for the shelter saying the extension is only temporary, but very necessary.
“The wellness centre has been full and over capacity ever since it started. So to close it I think it would be inviting a much bigger challenge in the downtown than what we already have.”
Clark added, STC is in serious talks with a landowner of a building about a more permanent location, and the move is expected to happen within a year, or even sooner than expected.
The mayor also said the community needs to come together to help the city move this project along in order to help reduce homelessness and drug challenges in the core.
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Tribal Chief Arcand previously told Global News he hopes the new location is larger so they can offer more services such as mental health and social services to be able to help more people in need. The new location for the wellness centre is still unknown.
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