A local state of emergency has been declared in Yellowknife from October 19th to November 1st allowing the GNWT to establish a temporary day shelter in the city.
Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Shane Thompson announced the action under the Emergency Management Act due to the “urgent need” for a temporary day shelter in Yellowknife.
Thompson says the decision was made after several attempts to identify a suitable location to provide this critical service to the city’s vulnerable residents.
“It is a necessary step to provide support to the health system until the emergency is resolved and the health and safety of the vulnerable population is no longer impacted by cold weather,” he adds.
Last week, Yellowknife city councillors voted against the GNWT’s request to turn the former Aurora Village building into a temporary day shelter for the next three years.
The GNWT is acquiring the former Northern Frontier Visitors Center site to establish the temporary day shelter.
They will be using modular camp buildings that are no longer being used to house workers building the Tłı̨chǫ all-season road.
The location is anticipated to be open by the end of November for those experiencing homelessness.
The shelter at the new location will be operated by the GNWT as long as the MACA Minister considers it necessary.
“This plan has come together as a result of rapid collaboration between territorial and municipal governments working in partnership with private industry to capitalize on the very recent availability of suitable infrastructure,” says Social Services Minister Julie Green.
Green says with the imminent return of winter weather creating an urgent need, and ongoing challenges in locating a suitable space, the decision will ensure that vulnerable Yellowknife residents have a place to seek shelter during the day.
“The GNWT is committed to providing sheltering services to residents in need, and this solution will enable us to do this despite the many challenges that we have faced during the pandemic,” she adds.
The GNWT recently confirmed plans to establish a permanent Yellowknife day shelter in 2024.
In the interim, the Yellowknife Arena will be reopened as a day shelter beginning on October 25th.