Good afternoon. Thank you for being here today.
I would like to thank Minister Green, and Mayor Alty from the City of Yellowknife for also joining us.
Today I am here to announce that I have made the decision to enact a State of Emergency for the City of Yellowknife, for the purpose of addressing the emergency faced by the homeless residents of Yellowknife, and the need to provide them with temporary shelter.
This is an extraordinary step that our Government is taking to address this situation, following discussions with the City of Yellowknife, and with full support of my Cabinet colleagues.
The Government of the NWT has been looking at options to address the homeless situation in Yellowknife. This has now become much more urgent as the temperatures have begun to drop and the risk to the homeless is rapidly increasing.
This has also been made more difficult as a result of the COVID emergency, and the need to make sure that any solutions that are considered support the Orders of the Chief Public Health Officer.
The only way to do this is to create more space for the homeless, and today’s decision will take us in that direction. Under the State of Emergency, the GNWT will acquire the Mine Safety Building from the City of Yellowknife, and we will begin to make the necessary alterations to establish this facility safely.
The Government of the Northwest Territories has not made this decision lightly. We were hopeful that the GNWTs application for the use of a facility located on 44th Street would have led to a solution, but timing has now become a significant concern, and this offers an immediate solution.
Accordingly, we are making the decision to act, and move forward with the best interests of the homeless residents in mind. While this is an extraordinary situation, I would like to confirm that this is being viewed as a temporary solution. The Government of the Northwest Territories has recently confirmed plans to establish a permanent Yellowknife day shelter in 2023.
Once again, I would like to thank Mayor Alty, and the City of Yellowknife for working with us on this solution. We need to continue to work together to support and help our people during this very difficult time.