Community safety plan coming in response to complaints around Whitehorse emergency shelter

·2 min read
The Yukon government is conducting a community safety plan with the Council of First Nations and the House of Wolf, a community safety organization, around the Whitehorse emergency shelter. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)
The Yukon government is conducting a community safety plan with the Council of First Nations and the House of Wolf, a community safety organization, around the Whitehorse emergency shelter. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)

The Yukon government is working on a community safety plan around the Whitehorse emergency shelter in response to concerns raised by area businesses of increased public intoxication, drug use and violence in the area.

Walter Streit, owner of the Alpine Bakery, next door to the shelter, estimates his revenues have gone down at least 15 per cent over the past four years.

"I feel sorry for the vulnerable people, most of which are really hit hard from their life," said Streit.

But he added no one is controlling the misuse of alcohol and drugs right around his business. He said he has one employee spend at least an hour cleaning up every day.

And he said they find needles, different paraphernalia used to consume drugs and even human feces.

Walter Streit
Walter Streit

A little further down the street, at Duffy's Pets, owner Hans Oettli said he's become concerned for his customers and employees.

"People are not really willing to come here to the business anymore because they're actually afraid to come here with their children," he said.

Both business owners said there needs to be more security around the shelter, which is managed by the Yukon government.

Community safety plan

In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Services said the government has heard the concerns of area business owners.

She said that in response, the government is working with the Council of Yukon First Nations and the House of Wolf, a community safety organization, to complete a community safety plan that will include input from a wide range of stakeholders, including those with lived experience at the shelter.

"We look forward to the recommendations from this review and working with the community going forward for a whole of community approach," the spokesperson wrote in the email.

Last June, the government announced that on Oct. 1, a partnership between the Council of Yukon First Nations and Connective, formerly known as the John Howard Society, will take over running the facility, and the territorial government will continue to fund it.

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