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Letters: Changes are needed for the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter

The shelter on Fourth Avenue is having a detrimental effect on the community of Whitehorse.

The shelter on Fourth Avenue is having a detrimental effect on the community of Whitehorse.

I will not point fingers as I believe that CYFN is doing the best they can. The fact is that the shelter is a breeding ground for alcohol and drug abuse. Two women overdosed in the bathroom at the shelter. People trying to get sober will not stay there because it’s dangerous and it’s hard to quit when people are drinking and doing drugs all around you.

I sure hope that the shelter management are not calling it a “wet detox,” because it isn’t. Having people sit out front of the facility drinking alcohol, using drugs has to be stopped, as soon as possible. Where is the security for shelter residents and the public?

Do people realize that many of our young people are going to the shelter to find adults that will give them alcohol and drugs? I have seen many girls hanging around the shelter with men much older than themselves. Kids are gravitating to this area as there are people that will give them alcohol and drugs.

One of my friends said her mother would go on a drinking binge by leaving home and staying at the shelter, where she can drink to her heart’s content; this was very upsetting for family members.

The thing that no one is saying out loud is - it was a big mistake to build a shelter, in its current location - close to a church that has a daycare and an elementary school. I’m betting the teachers have to search the playground for dirty needles, crack pipes and condoms. Parents likely wouldn’t trust their children to walk home from Whitehorse Elementary because they wouldn’t be safe.

The government of the Yukon needs to face the fact that this location is hurting our community and take direct action immediately to deal with this problem. Close the shelter and turn it into a home for seniors. Seniors have in the past tried to lobby Yukon government to make affordable housing downtown. Seniors would love to be downtown closer to shops, hospital, etc.

Build a temporary shelter at a new location that has greenspace and is not surrounded by daycares, playgrounds and churches. I remember when Dr. Beaton chaired the group that recommended a wet detox for Whitehorse. Unless you have experts administering such a program, do not allow the shelter to be a place that allows drinking and partying inside and outside. Then build another shelter in a suitable location to ensure that you have boundaries and guidelines for people who are staying there.

A friend of mine whose daughter is First Nation feels ashamed that the shelter has become this way as she thinks it sends a message to community members and tourists that this is what First Nation people are like. The shelter is enabling addicts; people who want to quit drinking or drugs either will not go there or they are afraid to because it’s dangerous. If you are sober and have money while living there, you better watch out.

Mr. Premier of the Yukon, don’t worry about the cost of this endeavor/change, it will be worth it in the long run. Do it now before more people get hurt. If you need any help, I am willing to assist.

Cathy Deacon


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