More than 20 downtown residents were given a tour of the new day shelter and sobering centre – set to open its doors to clients next week – on Tuesday night.
The group, all residents at Northern Heights Condominiums on 49 Street, got an up-close look inside the newly-redesigned building – located on 50 Street beside the Northern Lites Motel – formerly occupied by a bar.
Sept. 20 is the projected opening date.
The GNWT secured the 5111 50 Street site in September of last year, signing a five-year lease to establish a joint day shelter program and sobering centre. A major overhaul of the building’s interior was required.
“This gives us opportunities we’ve never had,” said Minister of Health and Social Services Glen Abernethy, addressing the two dozen people as they weaved through the brightly-lit building.
The centre combines the services of the day shelter – a safe place for homeless people to stay warm – and the sobering centre – a space where where alcohol or drug-impaired clients can sleep off their intoxication.
Since 2014, Yellowknife’s day shelter has operated out of the former Polar Parka building located on the corner of 49 Street and 51 Avenue.
The shelter is run by the NWT Disabilities Council, under contract with the GNWT.
According to Abernethy, the current day shelter – established temporarily to meet a dire need in the downtown – will shut its doors once the new centre has opened.
Yellowknife’s sobering centre has been located at the Salvation Army since October.
By combining the two programs into one, the centre looks to provide a “single point of access for many services for a vulnerable population,” according to the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority website.
As people saw Tuesday evening, the new centre boasts a number of features not seen at the current location, including additional shower, bathroom and laundry services. There will be increased staffing and a number of design considerations that put safety at the forefront of the blueprint.
The new centre can host a maximum of 27 people.
With added space in the new centre – one of the biggest differences between buildings – Abernethy said the building will have outreach programs that weren’t feasible at Safe Harbour.
With the extra space, the goal is introduce an array of therapy programs, from anger management to healing and healthy relationship workshops.
To assist clients in identifying personal goals, there are plans to create an “integrated case management,” position at the centre.
The new centre will be open 24-hours a day, with the day shelter operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The sobering centre, which closes its doors for two hours mid-day, operates from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m.