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City facing challenges finding sites for homeless shelters

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A recent report shows the City of Saskatoon has had some "challenges" identifying potential sites for homeless shelters, but two options are going through a review process.

“Since October of 2023, the Administration has been actively working with the Province to identify locations for temporary and permanent emergency shelters,” the report reads.

The city was tasked with finding two sites that could be used as homeless shelters with 30 beds each as part of the province’s homeless and addictions plan.

A new city report indicates commercial realtors have been engaged to find potential sites, and that each site has been evaluated on criteria over whether they are suitable locations.

“Although the majority of available built-upon sites have been deemed unsuitable, two options are currently proceeding through a due diligence review,” the report said.

The report says the struggles to find locations for shelters have brought up the possibility of a larger single location being used with 60 beds rather than two locations of 30 beds each.

“Given the challenges in identifying potential sites, the Province and the Administration discussed the possibility of a single 60-bed facility, rather than two 30-bed facilities. Both the Province and the Administration are supportive of this approach, provided a suitable site can be identified and the appropriate operating conditions are in place”.

It says the process to identify a shelter site has taken longer than anticipated, but the city and the province continue to collaborate on finding a site or multiple sites.

“As this work continues, Administration is preparing communications materials and developing the approach for neighbourhood information sessions. This will include many important messages from the City of Saskatoon, the Province, and the future service provider (The Mustard Seed) which will be of benefit to the entire community to gain a broader understanding” the report reads.

Back in February, the city proposed using an old fire hall on Central Avenue as a location for a shelter. However, it was not approved by city council, which voted in favour of a motion that would not allow homeless shelters within 250 meters of a school.

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