Christine Tapp, director of social supports branch, talks to media at a press conference in Whitehorse on Feb. 7, about the government taking control of the Whitehorse emergency shelter. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

A new committee may keep tabs on the Whitehorse shelter

The news came out during a press briefing exactly one week after YG officially took control

The Yukon government is hoping to have an advisory committee established this month to help guide programs and services at the Whitehorse shelter, which the government now runs.

Such a committee would act as a conduit between the Department of Health and Social Services and the surrounding community, said Christine Tapp, director of the social supports branch of the department.

It would made up of “either individuals or organizations who have direct experience in a shelter or a supportive housing context, who can really advise us on some of those sticky issues that we might face,” she said during a press briefing on Feb. 7.

Feedback would also come from those behind the Safe at Home program, including First Nations, she said.

On Jan. 31, the Yukon government took control of the building, formerly called the Centre of Hope, from the Salvation Army. Officials at the time said certain expectations of care were not being met by the Christian organization.

Tapp said there has been an increase in people accessing the shelter as well as more female clients.

People are also staying for longer periods of time, she said.

“It’s definitely a lot busier, and we’re trying to make best use of all of the space in the building.”

Shelter intake beds are open 24 hours, said Tapp. A drop-in space is also available.

An overflow space has been created, with more capacity for people to bed down. This area has been used “since day one,” she said.

At this point there’s no concern that space could run out, she said.

“Everybody who has presented and requested a shelter bed we have been able to meet their needs.”

A day before the Yukon government took over the building, the News published a story in which some clients expressed they hadn’t been informed of changes connected to the transition.

Tapp said since mid-January “a staff presence” was at the facility leading discussions with clients and getting input from them.

Next week, she added, there will be an open meeting for clients, where they can provide further feedback.

“(We want to know) what’s working, what’s not working, what would you like to see in the programs and services going forward,” Tapp said.

She described the shelter as low-barrier.

“It means individuals who are intoxicated or may present some difficult behaviours would definitely be welcome at the facility,” Tapp said, noting there are staff on-hand who can work with these people and deescalate conflict.

There are roughly 40 employees at the shelter in total, including full-timers, part-timers and those who are on-call. Some staff were poached from the Salvation Army on a temporary basis. It’s unclear how many, exactly.

A social worker will work from the facility.

There are no security personnel at the building.

Asked how the shelter will strike a balance between keeping everyone safe while maintaining an open door policy, Tapp said, “We would say there’s certain behaviours, if someone’s safety is being compromised or challenged, we would not welcome behaviour to the building, though (the) individual is always welcome.

“Ultimately, we want to have a safe space for everybody.”

Currently, clients cannot consume alcohol on-site, but during the coming weeks, an alcohol holding policy could be implemented, she said.

“We will be getting lockers in the coming weeks, where individuals can actually store their alcohol” while accessing services, Tapp said.

Eventually, harm reduction programming will be “layered in.”

Another development involves finding permanent housing for those who currently reside in the 20 transitional housing units upstairs.

“A number of them are ready to move on to something more stable and permanent in the community and we’re helping them with that,” Tapp said.

Previously, under the control of the Salvation Army, these units were available to clients for up to one year, she said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that transitional housing units could be made permanent.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read