Yellowknife's 51st St. sobering centre, day shelter reopens after COVID-19 closure

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The combined sobering and day shelter on 51st St. re-opened Monday, Oct. 4, after a three-week closure prompted by COVID-19 cases among staff.  (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
The combined sobering and day shelter on 51st St. re-opened Monday, Oct. 4, after a three-week closure prompted by COVID-19 cases among staff. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

After an indefinite closure that lasted more than three weeks, Yellowknife's combined day and sobering shelter on 51st St. re-opened Monday morning, the N.W.T.'s Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) said in a news release.

The shelter, run by the N.W.T. Disabilities Council, closed on Sept. 11 when too many staff members had COVID-19 to continue offering services. Health Minister Julie Green later admitted there was no plan in place for such a scenario.

The day shelter is now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the overnight sobering centre is open from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The re-opening "does not negate the need for more day sheltering space as winter quickly approaches," the authority stated, a reference to the controversial new day shelter the territory's health minister wants to open on Franklin St.

"Yellowknife's homeless population exceeds the capacity of our sheltering services," the release reads.

The overnight sobering centre, which has 27 beds, has recently only accepted 18 clients a night, due to distancing protocols.

The proposed new day shelter would accommodate up to 60 people.

A proposed $6 million sobering centre would include 30 beds.

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