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Devil’s in the details: Saskatoon chamber hoping for more info on Lighthouse purchase

Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) has bought the Lighthouse in Saskatoon and will be transitioning current residents to alternative housing options over the next two to three years.

Approval on the sale of the building was given by the Court of King’s bench Monday, with the SHC expected to take possession Jan. 5, 2024.

“We decided to purchase the Lighthouse to provide some stability and certainly security for the people that do live there now,” SHC CEO Louise Michaud said.

While the purchase is still new to Saskatoon, Ward 3 Coun. David Kirton is applauding the move.

“I think this is going to end up being good as long as the province follows through on finding supportive housing for these people and affordable housing as well,” Kirton said.

“Somebody else could’ve purchased that building and had those tenants out in a month,” Kirton added. “That would’ve created huge chaos in the city.”

At present, the lighthouse is home to 122 residents, with 50 living in the supportive housing units.

“We wanted to ensure we were able to take the time to work with the community and those individuals in order to give them the opportunity to transition to the appropriate subsidized or supportive housing that they need,” Michaud said.

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Kirton hopes the province “did its homework” on its current assets in Saskatoon so the transition process for the tenants can be seamless.

“We know there is a lot of empty homes and there might have to be some money spent to maintain some of these homes and fix them up.”

The corporation said once alternative housing and support services are in place, SHC will sell the property.

“I don’t think what we got there right now is sustainable for those people,” Kirton said.

Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce CEO Jason Aebig applauds the purchase and echoed the thoughts shared by Kirton, adding that if someone else had bought the building and moved the tenants out it would have been devastating for them.

“The devil in the details now is who will ultimately operate in the building,” Aebig said. “We know who owns the building and who is responsible for its general upkeep but what remains to be seen is who will actually operate the building, what programs and services they will deliver.”

Over the next three months, the housing corporation will be searching for a long-term service provider to provide services until everyone is successfully transitioned from the Lighthouse.

“I anticipate that anybody that will be providing the services to the residents will be doing so working with us,” Michaud said.

Aebig believes since the provincial government owns the property, there will be heightened accountability for maintenance and keeping issues at bay outside the building.

“We’ve argued for some time that beyond good neighbour agreements there needs to be very clear expectations of the operator, and accountabilities for what happens inside and outside the building. ”

Aebig confirmed this would be something the chamber would continue to monitor closely but added their immediate concern is the impact the building has had on the economy for small and medium businesses in the vicinity of the lighthouse.

“We believe it is the collective best interest of the community and our economy to have proper facilities that help people in active addiction, or that are going through mental health challenges, a place to get stabilized, treated and recovered,” Aebig said. “If we can remain focused on that goal, we can have fewer discussions about these stop-gap measures.

“We are advocating strongly for a long-term approach that actually starts to solve these problems.”

— with files from Global News’ Brody Langager.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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