Organizations in Saskatoon are coming together to provide extra warming spaces, as temperatures in the city dip to -30 C and feel colder with the wind chill.
Although temporary, the Salvation Army is sponsoring the city’s only overnight warming shelter at St. Mary’s Parish, with space to accommodate 80 to 100 people.
“It’s mainly just a place to stay warm overnight when there’s nowhere else to be,” said Salvation Army Saskatoon’s executive director, Gordon Taylor.
He added that capacity was already being reached before temperatures worsened.
“Since we’ve gone into this deep freeze and with the snow that’s fallen, the numbers have increased even more,” Taylor said.
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Organizations like Prairie Harm reduction are opening their doors for a warming space during the evening hours, but say their space isn’t big enough to accommodate the rising number of people.
“In our building, at least when it was a little bit warmer this winter, people could move in and out a little bit better. This last week has been 60 to 80 people crammed in that building and taking turns with people outside huddled together,” said executive director of Prairie Harm Reduction, Kayla DeMong.
Station 20 West community centre has also welcomed several people during the weekend.
DeMong said this is an issue that is seen year round.
“We’re not talking about 50 or 60 people anymore, there are hundreds of people in this situation in our city and we just don’t have the financial support from the province to properly support them,” she said.
Demong said agencies and the community need to come together to support the city’s most vulnerable.
Saskatoon’s emergency management organization is open for clothing donations which directly support those who have no where to go. For now, these spaces will be open to those who need them, as ongoing conversations continue to address the need for more support.