Saskatoon Tribal Council seeks expansion of wellness centre contract
The Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) is looking to expand its Emergency Wellness Centre services to provide a more long-term solution for homelessness in the city.
Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said that since December 2021, it has had a significant increase of people coming into its building at 145 1 St. N. in the downtown core of Saskatoon, and that it needs a bigger space to accommodate the demand.
“As of April 7, we’ve had 7,235 beds being used since Dec. 15, which is really significant. We’ve had 742 intakes, which means individuals coming in. Out of those intakes, there are 407 individuals, which means 407 different people utilizing this service since Dec. 15,” Arcand said.
STC is looking at a new location on 20 Street around Avenues L and M.
The building is expected to hold anywhere from 100 to 130 beds compared to its current 75, have a full kitchen, and have a top-floor space for offices and meetings.
Arcand said the new location would be home to many services for the homeless, such as workshops, mental health care and social services.
“We’re seeing a lot of individuals that really want to move forward in regards to getting help but still trying to trust those systems,” Arcand said.
The current temporary contract needs to be extended as its expiration date is the end of April.
Negotiations are underway with the building management team but if the deal goes through, STC is expecting to need anywhere from $3 million to $5 million in funding to fully renovate the new location.
“I’d like to take over all of the shelter fees away from all of the other organizations and have it away from downtown and just focus on trying to get people healthier and into these systems. So that’s the long-term goal,” Arcand said.
The Tribal Chief sent in a letter of recommendation to city council which was read Tuesday morning.
The letter outlines STC’s request to extend the current Emergency Wellness Centre’s contract to house the temporary organization for a little while longer until it is able to secure a permanent long-term location.
Council members have decided to refer the decision to the administration for a report to be presented back at a meeting later on in April.
During the meeting, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said: “There’s a lot of community interest in this. The homelessness situation that we’re facing is significant.
‘And the role of the wellness centre in working to address that has been significant in our community. But I also think it makes sense to really properly discuss this once we’ve got to those reports back.”
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