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Permanent facility for STC-run centre identified

The plan for the facility targets basic support services
STC Chief Mark Arcand2
Saskatoon Tribal Council Mark Arcand speaks to members of the media to give an update on the wellness centre.

SASKATOON — Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand’s goal of having a long-term facility to help homeless people and individuals who have addiction and mental issues is taking shape.

Arcand, in a press briefing Monday at the STC-run Wellness Centre Downtown, announced they have found a facility that can be converted into a one-stop shop where people in the shelter can also receive help and other services.

“Just for the public to know, we are looking at a long-term solution. We’ve found a facility but we’re kind of negotiating right now. But it won’t be ready for 10 to 14 months because it’s a complete renovation. It has to be ripped apart,” said Arcand.

The possible facility is a building beside Station 20 West between Avenues L and M South along 20th Street, moving the current centre away from downtown, which is the city's central business district.

Arcand said a budget of $3 to $5 million is needed to purchase the property and do the necessary renovations to house agencies, departments and organizations that provide social services and other tools for individuals to live independently.

“We’re looking to have the proper supports like a commercial kitchen in the basement with a mess area, a mess hall kind where people can eat, two floors of what we see here in our [current] facility, and the fourth floor as offices and meeting rooms,” added Arcand.

“But I think in the meantime, in my view, I’d like to take over all of the shelter pieces away from all the other organizations and … away from downtown and just focus on trying to get people healthier into the system. That’s the long-term goal, being fully transparent and accountable to the public and the community.”

He said he is hoping the community will step up, aside from seeking government help for financial aid to secure the property and build the facility as STC does not have to money to purchase the land.

“As I said, we’re a program and service delivery organization. We did ask the [provincial government]; we had a good meeting with income and social assistance, health, justice and housing,” said Arcand.

“We talked about this [permanent facility] and we put a $6-million plan to run it for a year, temporarily. That’s what it would take to do it properly, like what we’re doing right now. That’s just the programs and services.”

Arcand added that the original plan is to put the facility away from downtown, where most of the city's businesses and corporate offices are located with the centre having various organizations and support groups to assist the relatives — an inclusive term used to make those accessing services comfortable.

“What we’re doing is we’re asking organizations to put their services inside our building. Like income assistance or the health authority working with the relatives. I think it will be a win-win for everybody, but it’s going to take a process.”

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