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Judge hands control of Saskatoon Lighthouse to accounting firm


Financial control of an embattled Saskatoon non-profit will be temporarily handed over to an accounting firm.

Friday morning, a Saskatoon Court of King's Bench judge granted a request by board members to have Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. enter into receivership under MNP.

The accounting firm will have the power to manage operations and list three properties connected to the non-profit for sale.

While MNP can place the properties on the market, whether the firm will be permitted to finalize the sale will depend on the outcome of a hearing scheduled for April 13.

The immediate future of the Lighthouse ended up in the hands of Justice Allisen Rothery after two board members, Twila Redekopp and Jerome Hepfner were forced out of their role as co-director by the three other members of the Lighthouse board.

Redekopp and Hepfner had stepped in the co-director role after Lighthouse executive director and board member Don Windels was placed on leave in early 2022 following the findings of a court-ordered MNP report which found he had on multiple occasions used the Lighthouse treasury for personal loans.

Finding themselves excluded from the beleaguered non-profit's day-to-day operations, it was Redekopp and Hepfner who first applied for the Lighthouse to enter into receivership.

The three other board members, including Windels, then submitted a differently-structured application for receivership where MNP would have assumed control more gradually and an entirely new board would be created.

Board elections and many other aspects of how the non-profit is governed have effectively been on pause since Windel's launched an appeal in December 2021 following a judge's ruling that he should be removed from his roles at the Lighthouse.

Redekopp and Hepfner's attorney Travis Kusch said the plan Rothery settled on essentially mirrors their original request, with the only change being the restriction on the sale of property.

In an emailed statement, Hepfner said he and Redekopp believe MNP's appointment "is the best way to protect the interests of the Lighthouse’s clients, staff, stakeholders and creditors."

"Our goal is to maintain services for the Lighthouse’s clients and protect staff and stakeholders. In our opinion, the appointment of a receiver is the best way to achieve that," Hepfner said.

While Saskatchewan shifted away the Lighthouse's emergency shelter funding last year, the non-profit still houses many long-term residents and provides other services.

Speaking to reporters at Court of King's Bench on Friday, board member Adeel Salman said despite the controversy surrounding the Lighthouse, he believes the non-profit still has much to offer.

"The most important people in this whole scenario are those residents," Salman said.

Salman said he hopes that with the receiver in place, it will provide more confidence for Affinity Credit Union — the financial institution which the non-profit currently owes $2.4 million to.

"I said this before that if receivership was the direction to go I'm perfectly fine with that as long as we know what's gonna come out of it. So today's order does identify that and it helps us grapple with some of those challenges," Salman said.

--With files from Keenan Sorokan Top Stories

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