The territorial government has found a temporary location for the sobering centre.

It’s opening Nov. 1 through April and will be located at the Salvation Army on Franklin Avenue.

The Salvation Army will house the service until renovations are complete at 5111 50 St.,

The temporary Sobering Centre will be located at the Salvation Army and feature space for 30 people, 20 men and 10 women, on cots with pillows and blankets.
photo courtesy of Denise McKee

where the GNWT has a five-year lease agreement to house a combined day shelter and sobering centre.

The temporary facility will be operated by the NWT Disability Council with clinical services provided by Advanced Medical Solutions.

The NWT Disabilities Council previously operated the Sobering Centre, located in the Yellowknife Community Arena, which closed Sept. 15.

Everybody has really co-operated and managed to put a space together that I think is going to really do well,” said council executive director Denise McKee. “The weather is starting to get colder … (we’re hoping) that people are going to be feeling comfortable and be able to come in and utilize the space.”

She said this new space, located in the church area of the Salvation Army building, will be very different from the previous centre. It will have space for 30 people, 20 men and 10 women, the same number as before, but they won’t be sleeping in tents on the floor.

It has cots with mattress pads on them, they’ll have pillows and blankets and sheets,” said McKee, adding the previous layout was a product of the “wide open” space of the arena. The new location has “natural breaks,” with two smaller rooms for women and a larger area for men.

We listened to the people that will be utilizing them,” she said. “We wanted to be able to provide them with what they would feel more at home in … There was a little bit of worry about the cots and whether people would be comfortable on them or like fall off of them and things but that doesn’t seem to be an issue.”

The furniture and bedding was provided in part by donations from local businesses. All the equipment will go to the permanent location when it opens this summer.

Bryron Hardy, ministry unit leader with the Salvation Army, told Yellowknifer the organization is just the landlord and isn’t involved in its operations. However, in a GNWT news release, he stated the Salvation Army was “pleased” to be involved.

The mission of the Salvation Army is to serve others within our community. We are grateful for the opportunity to assist,” he stated.

Alongside the sobering centre, safe ride is also back up and running. In October, Yellowknifer reported the Yellowknife Street Outreach program, which offers free rides to people in need, had slashed its hours after there was no where to take them.

Safe ride will add two more hours to its run, starting today, operating seven days a week from 1 p.m. until 1 a.m. Denning said those hours might scale back if the demand lowers over the winter.

The sobering centre will operate from 2 p.m. until 7 a.m.

Safe ride received an additional $78,000 from the city in August, on top of the $100,000 already invested. This extra funding extended operations until the end of the year. Denning wasn’t sure what will happen after the coffers run dry in 2018.

It will really depend on what we show,” she said, adding she’s doing biweekly reports to city hall about how many people are taking a safe ride. “Hopefully we can prove the value of the service.”

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