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Saskatoon emergency shelter will not proceed at proposed site

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The City of Saskatoon has announced the proposed emergency shelter in the former Sutherland fire hall will not proceed, following a city council motion to limit the criteria for site selection.

According to the city, the council endorsed a motion requiring shelter spaces to be at least 250 metres from a public or catholic elementary school.

The move comes after an outcry from Sutherland residents, including parents whose children attend Bishop Filevich Elementary School, located just down the street from the fire hall where the 30-bed shelter was slated to open.

The shelter is part of a Saskatchewan government plan announced in October 2023 to alleviate the homelessness crisis, which includes 60 new emergency shelter spaces and 15 complex needs shelter spaces for Saskatoon.

The province is funding the shelters, but asked the city to choose the locations. Alberta-based non-profit Mustard Seed has been tapped to operate the facility, which now finds itself without a home.

“The city will continue to support the Government of Saskatchewan in its provincial approach to homelessness through identifying sites for two new locations, each having approximately 30 shelter beds,” the city said in a release late Wednesday.

The city said the postponed public meetings rescheduled for March 11 and 12 will be cancelled and the administration will seek alternate sites that meet the new criteria. 

On Monday, City Councillor Zach Jeffries announced his plans for the motion to nix the fire hall location.

“I believe this motion will help provide more certainty and clarity in the community about future shelters and how they can best be located. 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.

-With files from Rory MacLean

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