Yellowknife's draft budget earmarks $360K for street outreach program
'We want our community to be healthy and safe,' says city administrator about program
The City of Yellowknife's draft budget proposes $360,000 for the Yellowknife street outreach program.
The service provides non-emergency care and transportation to a city sobering centre for Yellowknife's transient street population. The program was launched with $100,000 in city funding in July.
That funding was intended to carry the program through to the end of December.
Sheila Bassi-Kellett, the city's senior administrative officer, said the city determined the 2018 budget for the program based on what was spent from July to November this year.
"We want our community to be healthy and safe," said Bassi-Kellet. "We're really pleased to have the van service that can pick people up, take them off the street and get them to the sobering centre and make sure that they're safe and make sure that our streets are safe."
Kellett said the city is also seeking additional funding from Health and Social Services and Health Canada for the program, which runs seven days a week from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.
RCMP have credited services like street outreach and other initiatives with lessening strain on police services in the city, and connecting people who need help with social agencies that can provide it.
Lydia Bardak, co-ordinator of the street outreach program, is one of four full-time employees driving the outreach van.
"Our costs are the wages for our employees and gas for the van," Bardak said.
"Right now, a tank of gas at about $120 lasts us three days. We always have two staff on board for 12 hours. We'd like to get to the point where we have some casual staff where we could relieve our staff to attend training."
Final budget deliberations begin Dec. 4.