The Saskatoon City Council has voted unanimously to expand the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s (STC) emergency wellness center.

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New emergency shelter opens in Saskatoon

Tribal Chief Mark Arcand welcomed the decision and said it will help protect some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

“Now we have an opportunity to get some special services in there, like mental health and addictions for the people that want it, and really try to change some lives here in a short period of time,” he said.

The STC recently opened a 50-bed wellness center on 1st Avenue North with a laundry area, showers, an entertainment room and social services for those experiencing homelessness amid cold weather.

The emergency wellness center has helped more than three hundred and fifty people in the month and half it’s been open, providing shelter more than two thousand times.

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But with ongoing pandemic, mental health issues and the cold, more room was required. The center was consistently over-capacity and people were turned away.

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Opening of downtown Saskatoon emergency shelter delayed

Monday’s vote by city council opens up the second floor of the building and adds around 20 beds.

Arcand says that’s where staff will house families suffering from homelessness.

“We’re also getting a lot of calls for families, single fathers, single mothers with children,” said Arcand. “And this is going to be an area where families can actually feel safe.”

Those who have mental health issues will remain on the bottom floor, where they can get more care.

Saskatoon Fire Chief Morgan Hackl said this wellness center has been a response to an urgent need in the community with the cold weather. It became a unanimous decision to support STC’s initiative to help those who need a warm place to stay.

“I just want to commend Fire Chief [Hackl]… And everybody for continuing to be able to adapt and ensure there are these spaces available for the community at a time when they’s badly needed, ”said Mayor Charlie Clark.

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Click to play video: 'Saskatoon Tribal Council on temporary emergency shelter approval'

Saskatoon Tribal Council on temporary emergency shelter approval

Saskatoon Tribal Council on temporary emergency shelter approval – Dec 10, 2021

The term will end on April 30, 2022 as weather warms up.

City workers will need to update the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and fire alarms before the center can expand. Officials say those fixes should only take a few days.

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