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Upheaval at Saskatoon Lighthouse as executive director is placed on leave

The executive director at The Lighthouse Supported Living is now on leave, less than a week after the Saskatoon Fire Department revealed it has found dozens of issues at the shelter during inspections over the past year.

According to a letter sent to Lighthouse management and obtained by CTV News, longtime executive director Don Windels was placed on leave as of Tuesday.

Windels' responsibilities will be assumed by two members of the board, Twila Reddekopp and Jerome Hepfner — the authors of the letter.

On Jan. 14, the fire department announced it has issued tickets and orders to correct several hazards. Most of the issues appeared to be "relatively minor" repairs.

In the letter to the shelter's management, Hepfner and Reddekopp said as co-managers they have been tasked with understanding "the true nature" of the Lighthouse's situation, including the cost and scope of the needed repairs.

"There is one opportunity for us to collectively turn things around and bring the Lighthouse back to a place where we are all working together for the betterment of our clients and residents," Hepfner and Reddekopp write.

Windels has not responded to CTV News' request for comment.

Beyond fixing the issues flagged by fire inspectors, the board members write they will review the shelter's security procedures and how they may have played a factor in what they describe as a "current lack of control within the building."

In a statement, the Lighthouse management team said its hopeful the change in leadership does not affect day-to-day operations.

However, due the "uncertainty the situation has created" the management team said it's calling on the Saskatchewan government to appoint a member of the province's Dispute Resolution Office to "constructively work through the issues" all parties are facing.

In a statement, Jeff Redekop, executive director of income assistance service delivery at the Ministry of Social Services said the"ministry continues to engage in conversations with Lighthouse Supported Living regarding their efforts to ensure services for clients continue without disruption."

"They are an autonomous organization, and the ministry is unable to speak to the organization’s human resources," Redekop said.

A justice ministry spokesperson said requests are made to the Dispute Resolution Office confidentially for its fee-for-service mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution services. Top Stories

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