Saskatoon city council is set to discuss the proposed opening of a 15-bed shelter at Idylwyld and 38th Street for people with complex at Wednesday’s city council meeting.
The shelter is intended to provide a safe and medically supervised space for police to bring people who are intoxicated and acting in a way that might be dangerous to themselves or others.
Some business owners in the area are concerned that it will impact the image of the neighbourhood and increase crime.
“It’s going to devalue our properties, it’s going to devalue people’s desire, consumers desire to come spend time around here. That [shelter] is in the same parking lot as a hotel and a restaurant. People are not necessarily going to want to come and park there,” Tom Redhead, operations manager at SuRe InnoVations, said.
Redhead said that there are plenty of small businesses in the area trying to make a living and the shelter is going to get in the way of that. He said he would rather like to see the shelter be connected to a mental health facility or a hospital.
Around 60 residents and property owners near the proposed spot for the shelter met Monday morning to discuss their concerns and gather opposition to the facility.
Rick Istifo said a lot of people were feeling upset about just receiving a letter from the city about the proposed shelter.
“Not enough notification, not enough neighborhood consultation from the city and the province. We definitely put the blame on both,” Istifo said.
He said that there should have been more discussion about the impact the shelter could have on the neighbourhood.
“Safety, safety, safety. This neighborhood has suffered a lot. I’ve been in the area for over 30 years and we’ve seen it change dramatically, especially in the last five years,” he said.
“My tenants in that area are worried about the safety of the staff.”
Shirley Isbister is the president of CUMFI, a non-profit that helps people with finding a place to live. She said people will complain no matter where the shelter is placed.
“I don’t think 15 spaces are going to be enough, but it’s a start. It doesn’t matter where that emergency shelter would be put, no one’s going to be happy,” Isbister said. “It just seems in our community that people may want it and know the city needs it, but it’s always the same: not in my back[yard].”
She said people with complex needs have to have a place to go.
“We need to support these types of things so that we can make change, maybe get some help. So I think it’s about time that we open it up.”
Darren Hill, the city councillor for the area. said he believes a facility for people with complex needs should be away from residential properties. He pointed out that the location for this proposed shelter was a provincial decision.
The province can currently open a shelter at the old SLGA location and operate it for six months without council approval, but is asking the city to extend that time to 18 months.
Council will discuss that request on Wednesday and hear from delegates who wish to speak on the matter.
Hill said he has many questions for the province.
“Who are the service providers for the health component? Who are the service providers for security? What is the discharge policy for that individual after the 24 hours are done? Do they simply open the door and say goodbye?” he asked.
He said he hopes somebody from the province will be there Wednesday to answer those questions.