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Saskatoon business leaders want public input on future shelter locations

An organization representing businesses says any future decisions surrounding shelters should involve public input

“We believe that any future shelter applications should involve dedicated public hearings,” says a letter from the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce to city council.

The letter is signed by both chamber CEO Jason Aebig and Downtown Saskatoon executive director Brent Penner.

“We urge you to consider making a procedural change to the way any future shelter applications are considered by routing the public consultation process, and review of applications, through to City Council for decision,” the letter says.

The Saskatoon Tribal Council's (STC) temporary shelter opened late last year. While council originally placed a six-month time limit on the shelter, it was given an extension until next spring as the STC works to move the operation to a permanent location outside of the downtown core.

The presence of the shelter has led to complaints from some nearby businesses.

“Given the significant impact shelter operations can have on adjacent businesses and residences, it would seem more appropriate to invite all stakeholders into any discussions about new shelter developments and give them an opportunity to share their thoughts on any new proposals brought before the city,” the letter says.

The chamber's director of policy and government relations told CTV News they hope to strike a balance between the needs of the community and the interest of businesses in the area.

“We've heard this for many years that the businesses in the downtown and employees have expressed concerns about the concentration of shelter facilities, and kind of the subsequent impacts,” Margot Orr said.

“But at the same time, we also see the challenges that vulnerable people face every day. They leave the facilities that they have stayed in overnight and find themselves without a safe place to go.”

Orr said they are hoping a transparent process would avoid some of the conflicts between business owners, residents and shelter facilities.

“We felt that this would address the need to kind of look at lessening the impact of shelter facilities on area businesses and residents, as well as providing the residents themselves with safe and welcoming places to gather while safeguarding their dignity and wellbeing,” Orr said. Top Stories

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