Yellowknife’s Mine Rescue Building, pressed into service as a temporary day shelter since the fall, became an overnight shelter on Sunday after a flood at the Salvation Army.
A burst pipe damaged all four floors of the Salvation Army building, meaning the organization can’t operate its usual overnight shelter for up to 40 people.
The Salvation Army activated its emergency plan on Sunday in a bid to find somewhere else for people to go. The past weekend was one of the coldest in Yellowknife for years and the city remains under an extreme cold advisory.
At a meeting of city councillors on Monday, senior administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett confirmed the Mine Rescue Building was now providing an overnight sleeping space.
“Some of the clientele have been relocated to the temporary day shelter,” Bassi-Kellett told councillors, who were working out whether federal funding designed to tackle homelessness during the pandemic could be used to help the Salvation Army.
The funding, from the federal Reaching Home initiative, comes with specific spending criteria. City staff are not yet certain if any can be used to address the consequences of Sunday’s flood.
“Whether or not there is the eligibility for them to do these repairs that are urgently required … I would certainly hope there is, but we’ve got a bit of work to do to ascertain what can be covered off for emergencies like this,” said Bassi-Kellett.
“It’s a little bit preliminary right now but definitely on the radar.”
The Mine Rescue Building was co-opted by the territorial government in the fall after Paulie Chinna, the municipal and community affairs minister, declared a local emergency in Yellowknife to commandeer the building.
The site, next to Overlander Sports, was vacant at the time, though the YWCA NWT and SideDoor charities had been set to move in.
Until Sunday, the Mine Rescue Building was functioning as an overflow daytime shelter for people to stay warm. Other shelters have had their capacities limited by Covid-19 public health restrictions.
The building will remain a day shelter but is now offering overnight space. How long that will be the case was not immediately clear.