STC Emergency Wellness Centre Approved
In response to the surge of homelessness in our city, compounded by COVID-19 and the increasing cold weather, the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) and several organizations partnered in a proposal to establish a Temporary Emergency Wellness Centre – with long-term potential to help Saskatoon’s homeless population. Today, this proposal has become a reality; we now can support many homeless people. We are aiming for a Monday opening.
“We needed to move fast with the colder weather approaching; it is a matter of life and death for our people on the streets. We are grateful to all our partners who made this Wellness Centre a reality, especially the City who expedited the approval process,” says Tribal Chief Mark Arcand. “This Wellness Centre will not only help our homeless off the streets, but it will also provide them with mental, addiction, and housing services. They will be treated with dignity.”
After weeks of researching properties and consulting realtors, the City of Saskatoon helped STC locate a facility in downtown Saskatoon that will accommodate a plan to help the city’s homeless population off the streets this winter.
The City offered a 9,200 square foot space at 145 First Avenue North; the building itself is a former sub-office of the Saskatoon Police Service. The Wellness Centre will operate temporarily out of this space for the next four months.
The Wellness Centre will mitigate the homelessness crisis in Saskatoon. It will be staffed 24/7 and offer mental health, addictions, and housing services.
Key information about the Wellness Centre:
- We are aiming to open Monday, December 13, 2021 (pending staff training and facility set-up).
- The Standing Policy Committee for Planning, Development and Community Services met on December 7, 2021and voted unanimously in favour of the Wellness Centre.
- City Council expedited the process by holding a special emergency meeting on December 9, 2021, and voted unanimously to approve the Wellness Centre.
- The starting point is helping 50 people off the streets.
- The Saskatoon Police Service has a security and operations plan for the area around the Wellness Centre.
- The Fire Department is making sure the building is safe for people to live in.
- There will be 24-hour security at the Wellness Centre.
- Drugs and alcohol will not be allowed inside the Wellness Centre.
- Emphasis is on wrap-around supports:
- Mental health and addictions counselling will be available.
- Life-skills opportunities will be integrated into the housing plan.
- There is a lease option for up to five months – terms are to December 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022, with the option to extend to April 30, weather-dependent.
Strict COVID-19 testing and safety procedures will be in place, including isolation if people test positive.
All these efforts are being made to support better those facing homelessness in our community to obtain long-term and secure housing options.