“While they’re deciding, we’re getting the wheels in motion,” said Mayor of Yellowknife Rebecca Alty as city councillors planned an emergency meeting to consider funding a temporary day shelter.
Alty says the city just discovered the federal government has increased Yellowknife’s homelessness funding for the year. She hopes the city can use that money to erect a temporary structure, then lease it to the NWT government for free.
Doing so would end the territorial government’s months-long search for somewhere to put a temporary shelter, which is needed as pandemic health measures have reduced capacity elsewhere.
Posting to Facebook, Alty said a special meeting of council on Thursday will discuss whether to use some of the federal cash to put up a temporary, heated structure with washrooms, then hand it over for the NWT government to run.
The recommendation to do so comes from the city’s community advisory board on homelessness, which met on Tuesday morning.
The city rejected the territorial government’s earlier bid to use the downtown Mine Rescue Building as a temporary shelter. The territory was last week considering another building, on 44 Street near St Pat’s high school – a proposal that has yet to come before councillors.
“With this temporary structure, we’re offering the GNWT a potential alternative to their current proposal of the building on 44 Street,” Alty wrote on Facebook.
Exactly where the temporary structure would be built was not clear.
The mayor said erecting a temporary structure may be preferable to using an existing downtown building. Repurposing a building can involve an appeals process potentially lasting until February and beyond, she said, delaying the introduction of the service.
A temporary structure on city-owned land is not subject to the same appeal process.
“We see the temporary structure as the quickest route,” Alty wrote.
If council decides to go ahead with the plan on Thursday, the mayor said the city can put funding in place and start finding contractors for the work while the territory decides if it wants to accept the offer.