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City councillor says motion could put brakes on controversial homeless shelter


Residents are continuing to pressure city officials to change the location of a proposed homeless shelter in Sutherland.

City councillor Zach Jeffries says he plans on putting forward a motion to change criteria on where homeless shelters and operate in the city.

It would mean shelters would have to be 250 meters from an elementary school in the public or catholic school system and atleast 500 meters from an existing shelter location.

“I believe this motion will help provide more certainty and clarity in the community about future shelters and how they can best be location. If the motion passes, it would end consideration of the former Fire Hall Number 5 as a location for a shelter and ensure that different sites can be looked at that take into account these separation distances” Jeffries wrote in a post online.

Residents of Sutherland as well as those with ties to area schools and other facilities are weighing in – all vowing not to back down. Jessica Thompson has lived in Sutherland for four years and feels like residents aren’t getting the whole truth from city council.

“Are you guys lying to us like yes, we can have our say in this, or is it already gone through, and you’ve already made a decision behind closed doors,” Thompson told CTV News.

The postponement of City of Saskatoon public meetings earlier this month on the matter are adding to her frustration and overall confusion. Thompson’s kids attend Sutherland Public School, which is many blocks away from the shelter, but she’s still prepared to fight to have the decision to put a thirty-bed shelter in the former fire hall on Central Avenue admitting she fears the fallout will affect all aspects of the community.

That continued pressure is something that Ward 5 councillor Randy Donauer says, could impact the decision.

“I think my colleagues are listening to the community and when this does come to council, we’ll be very careful of what decisions we’ll make,” Donauer said.

But that’s not how Thompson sees it.

“I think that’s what they’re saying to keep us calm because that’s what they said to Fairhaven too. We’ve had a lot of Fairhaven support in this because they don’t want it to happen to us like it happened to them,”

“I’ve had lots of residents contact me and across my ward and across the city. I think all the councillors and mayor have,” Donauer said.

That pressure could be coming from parents of students at Bishop Filevich Ukrainian Bilingual School. That school is 100 metres from the shelter and is a school where students are primarily bussed from all over the city because it’s a specialized program and the only one in the province.

“We have children not only from Sutherland, but from all over the city, from all neighborhoods of the city so it concerns all parts of the city of Saskatoon,” Melenchuk told CTV News.

Melenchuk has a grade six and grade one child and says, she never had concerns with how the city was being run until this issue came up. 

Now she’s done research and is informed on council procedures.

“In the fall when it’s time to for the election I’ll be a more active citizen,” she said.

The Ukrainian community across Saskatoon is a significant voice and she’s hopeful it can affect change.

The public meetings, which were initially postponed, are now rescheduled for March 11, which is virtual meeting and another in-person meeting on March 12th.

Adding more discussion about the Fairhaven shelter is Darren Hill, who plans on asking city administartion to report back on crime stats for the area since the shelter opened.

Crime is one of several major concerns resdents have continued to bring forward.

Wednesdays meeting at City Hall is slated to start at 10:15 am. Top Stories

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