SASKATOON -- It’s one of the most high-profile discussions in Saskatoon and has been a key point of the municipal election: the Lighthouse, and the issue of downtown safety and well-being.

While all six mayoral candidates have spoken about the issue, the solutions extend beyond municipal politics.

“The province funds the facility and has jurisdiction over homelessness, mental health, and addictions,” incumbent Charlie Clark pointed out during an Oct. 14 mayoral debate.

The Lighthouse works with the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) and the Community Advisory Board on Saskatoon Homelessness (CAB-SH), and also receives donations from several different organizations and businesses, but clients that seek support from the Lighthouse must first get funding from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services, which then gives that money to the shelter.

In September, the Saskatchewan Party government partnered with the city of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Tribal Council on the Sawēyihotān pilot project designed to address homelessness and safety issues downtown.

“We provide large amounts o funding to these shelters in our province to ensure that people aren’t being left behind and that they do have an opportunity to have a roof over their heads,” Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe said when asked about the Lighthouse.

New Democratic Party leader Ryan Meili says he’s supported the Lighthouse outside of the provincial election.

“During COVID-19, I got my (doctor’s) licence back and I started working at the Lighthouse. I do a weekly clinic there,” he said. “ I think the Lighthouse offers incredible services to the most vulnerable, and I’d continue to support that organization.”

The six mayoral candidates agree that there’s work to be done on supporting the Lighthouse, and the people who use it, but there’s more than one idea on how to accomplish that.

Incumbent Charlie Clark, Don Atchison, Mark Zielke, Cary Tarasoff, and Zubair Sheikh have all said that they support moving elements of the Lighthouse to new locations to better support people, while Rob Norris would like to address programming concerns.

“That would be a municipal issue, it’s also an issue for the Lighthouse who own that building, and they’re offering a really important service,” said Meili of changing the facility’s location.