City to partner with tribal councils on permanent 24-hour homeless shelter

The City is partnering with the Prince Albert Grand Council and the Saskatoon Tribal Council to spearhead the creation of a permanent homeless shelter for high-risk individuals in Prince Albert.

Mayor Greg Dionne said the decision to partner with STC came after he toured their 120 bed facility in downtown Saskatoon last week that he claims is “very successful”.

“It was very well operated, they’re full all the time,” said Dionne. “The reason we want to engage with STC is because we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

He explained that the proposed shelter would take on some qualities of STC’s facility, like 24 hours a day seven days a week operating hours.

“The key to operating it 24 hours a day is that you have the problem 24 hours a day, so that you can feed them, shelter them,” he said. “I was very impressed with their program. It’s not just housing them and letting them go out the door.”

STC’s downtown wellness centre requires guests to register upon arrival so the organization can track them and their progress in the future. Individuals are accepted no matter the issue but must visit with a social worker to enroll them in trades and work programs to “see if they can get them out of the system and into the flow”.

“The funding model is very interesting that they have and it’s sustainable. That’s the key,” he said. “Our homeless problem is not going away and this is a permanent solution.”

According to Dionne, STC’s homeless facility costs roughly $350,000 a month to operate, but this is mostly due to the large size of the centre.

Coun. Blake Edwards added that he hopes the new facility will be a “middle-ground”. 

“Often we see calls coming in, there’s someone on the sidewalk sleeping or they’re intoxicated. Officers or whoever gets the call have to choose, go to the police cells — most of the time they’re not criminals, or go to the hospital — most of the time they don’t need the hospital beds. This needs to work with that,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he believes the proposed shelter is part of the solution on addressing the homelessness issues in Prince Albert.

Dionne mentioned that while the permanent homeless facility is in the works, a report on opening a cold-weather shelter for the upcoming winter season will be brought forward for discussion at the next Executive Committee meeting on Oct. 24. 

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