Temporary day shelter location in city’s hands: Health Minister Green

Health Minister Julie Green speaking at the Legislative Assembly. (Photo by Bailey Moreton/MyTrueNorthNow.com.)
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Health Minister Julie Green says the GNWT has selected the old Canadian Legion building at 4709 Franklin Avenue as a potential site for a new temporary day shelter.

In an open letter, Green said the building — which most recently was the office for Aurora Village — had been chosen after the territorial government asked organizations in the city if there was an existing space that could be used for a temporary shelter.

The Sobering Centre has closed until further notice after a number of staff were impacted by COVID-19 exposures at the facility. Yellowknife is currently in the midst of an outbreak affecting underhoused and vulnerable community members.

Now, Green said, whether the location gets approved was up to the city, who would have to approve a permit for setting up a temporary day shelter, similar to the process that the city underwent last year.

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Last year, the city could not come to an agreement about where a temporary day shelter should be located. Then Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Paulie Chinna had to declare a public emergency to clear the Mine Resources building to house a new temporary day shelter.

Last year, the temporary day shelter only opened the first week of November

Yellowknife has been struggling with day shelter capacity for a while.

The GNWT had been running temporary day shelter services outside the Aspen Apartment buildings on 51 Street, but those were shutdown due to a city permit appeal. 

The temporary day shelter, held at the Mine Resources building, was shut on May 31. That shelter was set up because of the reduced capacity at the existing Sobering Centre, run by the NWT Disabilities Council, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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An appeal filed with the city means the GNWT has to shut down until a review of the permit is completed.

The health department had shortlisted a vacant lot on 51st Street as a location for a new, permanent day and overnight shelter. The plan is for the space to accommodate 99 people in total, with 60 people able to use the day shelter at a time, as well as 30 overnight beds. 

The territorial government has funding to build a permanent day shelter, but construction will only begin on that project in 2024.

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