Yellowknife Community Arena serving as day and overnight shelter

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The Yellowknife Community Arena is serving as a temporary day and overnight shelter in Yellowknife. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
The Yellowknife Community Arena is serving as a temporary day and overnight shelter in Yellowknife. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

The Yellowknife Community Arena will be used to operate a temporary day and overnight shelter, according to a news release issued Monday.

The government of the Northwest Territories said the shelter at the arena will provide food, washrooms, showers, bedding and cots.

The announcement came after Yellowknife's combined day shelter and overnight sobering centre on 50th Street closed indefinitely on Sept. 11, after the city started experiencing community transmission of COVID-19.

"The opening of this shelter responds to the need for additional capacity to provide increased safety for underhoused people, to minimize any further spread of COVID-19 among that population and act as a contingency should outbreaks occur within other sheltering facilities in Yellowknife," the government's statement reads.

Earlier, on Sept. 7, Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, declared an outbreak within the underhoused population.

"COVID-19 infections are now impacting one of the Northwest Territories' most at risk populations," she said in a statement.

On Sept. 14, the N.W.T. government said the city's community arena would serve as a shelter while the Yellowknife Ski Club would act as an isolation centre. The ski club began using its chalet as an isolation centre the following day.

The city is currently experiencing its highest number of active cases since the pandemic started. Latest numbers on the territory's website, last updated Sept. 17, indicate there are 153 active COVID-19 cases in Yellowknife, including in three non-residents.

The territorial government said personnel from the Red Cross will be working with N.W.T. government staff at the temporary shelter, to make sure there are enough people to provide the services.

It added that shelter staff will provide transportation for people who want to access the temporary shelter.

It also said the temporary shelter is complementary to the COVID-19 isolation centres and provides "a sheltering option when people leave those centres."

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