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Yellowknife homeless shelter nears capacity as winter looms

The man in charge of Yellowknife's emergency homeless shelter says it's nearing capacity, and he fears what will happen as the weather gets colder.

45 men are already using the shelter each night, and there's only room for 49

Dusty Sauder is the Salvation Army's executive director of the N.W.T. Resource Centre in Yellowknife. (CBC)

The man in charge of Yellowknife's emergency homeless shelter says it's nearing capacity, and he fears what will happen as the weather gets colder. 

The Salvation Army in Yellowknife — the organization which operates the city's only emergency shelter for men —  only has space for 49 men per night. 

"Given that we're already hitting 45 [men per night] as it gets colder we'll have more folks that need services and need a place to stay," says Lt. Dusty Sauder, the executive director of Yellowknife's Salvation Army.

"We won't be able to handle it."

Last year, Sauder says shelter staff had to turn men away between 10 and 15 times. He says the number of men needing a place to sleep has slowly increased by about three people per year, over the last four years.

In the past, the shelter has had a policy to call the RCMP whenever they turn someone away. 

Sauder says the RCMP open up cells at the Yellowknife detachment and men can decide whether or not they'd like to stay there for the night.

"It's not ideal but it's better than leaving someone out in the freezing cold."

That policy has since changed. The Salvation Army now says it's working with the city towards long-term solutions to Yellowknife's homeless problem. 

Yellowknife RCMP were not available for comment.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Salvation Army in Yellowknife relies on RCMP cells to house the homeless when the shelter is full. In fact, that is no longer the shelter's policy.
    Oct 07, 2016 3:37 PM CT

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