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Prince Albert leaders work toward permanent homeless shelter

Prince Albert community leaders gathered on Wednesday to discuss permanent solutions for homelessness in the city.

The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) brought together multiple agencies to help face challenges when supporting the homeless population.

“The real purpose is coming together and for that communication and bringing all agencies together,” Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, with the PAGC, said.

Donna Brooks, CEO of the Prince Albert YWCA, said the province is prepared to fund a permanent 24-hour shelter, but finding a location is a challenge.

Currently, the overnight shelter is operating under the grandstands at the Prince Albert Exhibition grounds.

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said this will be the last year the shelter can operate at that location.

“Every year we've been told this is the last time, but this time it is the last time,” he said.

Dionne said some service clubs used to run out of the grandstands, but have since moved to a different building on the grounds. He notes the city has had to employ security to monitor the area.

Chief Patrick Nogier, with the Prince Albert Police Service, said officers will focus on treating the vulnerable population with compassion and work to connect them with support services.

“What's the proper resource that we can connect individuals with, rather than just putting them into a cell and not having that compassionate component to it,” he said.

The P.A. Downtown Business Improvement District and the P.A. Chamber of Commerce said the shelter needs to be in a location that won’t impact businesses.

“No matter where we put a shelter, people will still move around or not stay in the shelter all day,” Brooks said.

She said while a shelter won’t solve homelessness, it’s the “biggest step” in connecting people with support.

“Our job is to keep people from freezing to death. Identify the resources out there that the person could access and if they choose to access it, be able to refer them and help them access those services,” she said.

The Prince Albert Grand Council plans to hold further meetings in hopes of finding a permanent solution. Top Stories

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