A Saskatchewan community has rallied together to try to make sure everyone a warm place to stay this winter.
The Meadow Lake Homeplate Shelter Coalition Corp. Emergency Shelter opened Friday in Meadow Lake, Sask., about 300 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. The emergency shelter opened in large part thanks to funds collected by locals.
"It's community, it's grassroots, it's citizens that have a love and a feeling for the folks that are homeless," said Bob Steeg, who spoke with host Garth Materie on CBC's The Afternoon Edition.
Steeg is the chair of the Meadow Lake Home Plate Shelter Coalition Corporation, which was created to lobby for funds and will run the 17-bed shelter space. He said the need for a shelter had been evident for some time.
"It came to a point where either we're going to keep talking about it or we're going to start doing something," said Steeg.
Putting the idea into motion
Steeg said the generosity of the community has gone a long way.
One person offered $20,000 in seed money for the building. Another pitched in an additional $20,000 for renovations. The person who donated the building offered to pay for all the utilities.
After that, the coalition took up door knocking in the community.
"The hearts in Meadow Lake are incredibly generous and spontaneous," said Steeg. "The citizens were absolutely outstanding."
Bob Steeg, right, shakes the hand of a local donor who provided $5,000 for the emergency shelter. (Meadow Lake Homeplate Shelter Coalition Corp/Facebook)
The facility will provide emergency shelter services between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. CST, seven days a week. It will also offer referrals for programs run by the government and community agencies.
Steeg said the coalition is working toward having the shelter open for longer hours.
"Our ultimate goal is to be 24/7 with a complete facility with more food, to get these people directed in life and get them addiction counselling," said Steeg.
Steeg said he is happy to see this idea come to fruition. Before the coalition, Steeg was the chair of Door of Hope, a soup kitchen offering free meals to those in need in Meadow Lake.
The City of Meadow Lake has also committed to providing $10,000 per month for five months to support the shelter.
"We do feel that this is a much-needed facility in our community during the cold winter months," Meadow Lake's Mayor Merlin Seymour said in a release.
"There have been a lot of businesses, individuals and groups which have contributed to this."
The province is also providing $48,000 to help fund the shelter. That money funds five permanent spaces.
Up to 20 emergency spaces will be supported through March 2024 with funds from the province, the City of Meadow Lake and private donors.
"It has been a pleasure working collaboratively to get to this outcome," said Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison in a release. "I'm very hopeful that these beds will provide a hand up for those who need it."
This funding is part of $40.2 million the province is spending over the next two years to create 120 new emergency shelter spaces and 155 new supportive housing spaces.