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(PUBLISHER’S NOTE: All the MLA candidates were asked to comment on the best way forward for the sobering centre in Yellowknife. Go here to see the full question and context.)

It must come from the MLA’s to direct their government departments to work with all the listed groups, plus the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Group, SideDoor, Hope’s Haven, the Salvation Army, Bailey House, Lynn Brooks’ Safe Place for Women, Yellowknife Women’s Society and its Street Outreach program and the City of Yellowknife.

I would propose the GNWT setup a workshop to facilitate all these groups so we can collectively reach a workable solution and produce an achievable action plan with all partners engaged. Sufficient funding could be dispersed to each of the groups that are responsible for specific stages of this plan. Not only will these competent NGO’s have direct input into the development, they will receive the funding required to implement and action the proposed solutions.

The government must have some oversight because these are public funds and the expectation from the public is accountability. But, it is imperative the ‘red tape’ is minimal so it’s not a cumbersome process for the NGO’s that already have an excessive workload.

If we invest now, this will save, literally millions over the next 5 years. The reduction in healthcare costs, first responders, justice/corrections and pressure on NGO’s will be realized over time. It’s a wise investment in our most important resource, our people.

I’m going to go on record stating that the sobering center location is not suitable at all. I recognize there are challenges to finding a location, but the government must seek out other options, even expanding the wellness center behind the fieldhouse. Partner up with one, or more, of the NGO’s to offer daily rides out there for residents with a van. If there’s additional capacity to offer hot food and beverages, plus room to rest or sober up, this might help with reducing the violence in the downtown core.

Wellness camps are an economically feasible way of expanding throughout all communities in the North. This would help to offer support for the most vulnerable within a short time frame. Camps with wall tents can be setup quickly. Camp wood stoves are reasonable, or propane/oil drip stoves for those communities without a viable wood source.

I’ve knocked on close to 900 doors and this is an issue that is the most frequently discussed by residents in Yellowknife North. I have committed to working with all Yellowknife MLA’s to help fast track a resolution by partnering with NGO’s.

 

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Bruce Valpy

Bruce Valpy is publisher of Northern News Services Ltd. He can be reached at 1-867-766-8228 or valpy@nnsl.com.

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