Whitehorse Daily Star

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MAJOR CHANGE LOOMING – Almost four years after the Yukon government assumed the management of the shelter for the homeless in downtown Whitehorse, its administration will again change hands on Oct. 1.

Connective, CYFN to operate downtown shelter

Connective, in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN), will assume operations of the large shelter for the homeless at 405 Alexander St. on Oct. 1.

By Whitehorse Star on June 16, 2022

Connective, in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN), will assume operations of the large shelter for the homeless at 405 Alexander St. on Oct. 1.

Connective was formerly known as the John Howard Society.

“This marks the final phase of the Government of Yukon’s plan to transfer operations and management of the Housing First residence on Wood Street and the shelter in Whitehorse to a non-governmental partner,” the government said in a statement Wednesday.

Connective has operated the Housing First residence alongside the CYFN since April 2021.

The organization has “demonstrated success in working together to meet the needs of vulnerable Yukoners,” the governent said

“Expanding the partnership to the shelter at 405 Alexander Street will ensure that Yukoners continue to receive person-centred and culturally-appropriate enhanced care.”

The transfer of operations at the shelter will not affect day-to-day operations and there will be no interruptions to services.

The government will continue to provide its Emergency Medical Services on-site paramedic program at the shelter “to ensure people accessing the facility receive the timely medical care they may need,” the statement said.

Other on-site government services, such as mental wellness and substance use services and community outreach services will also continue.

“By completing the final phase of our government’s commitment to transfer operations of both the Housing First residence and the Whitehorse shelter to a non-governmental partner, we will better support vulnerable Yukoners who are facing homelessness,” said Tracy-Anne McPhee, the minister of Health and Social Services.

“I look forward to seeing how Connective and the Council of Yukon First Nations improve this facility and the critical support services they offer.”

Grand chief Peter Johnston said the CYFN “is looking forward to continuing and developing our partnership with Connective to support vulnerable Yukon First Nations by partnering on the operation of the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter.”

Connective CEO Mark Miller added, “We’ve learned through our experience in the community that the issues facing vulnerable Yukoners are multifaceted and complex.

“At Connective, we are well-versed in delivering diverse, person centric support to marginalized community members across B.C. and the Yukon.

“We are humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to continue this important work in partnership with CYFN, supporting those who need it most.”

The location for the shelter was chosen by the former Yukon Party government, and it immediately became seriously problematic.

Some nearby businesses suffered sharp drops in revenue because of the verbal harassment their customers suffered from shelter users.

Properties were vandalized, and RCMP and ambulances were frequently summoned to the facility. Jaywalking meant passing motorists constantly had to be on the alert.

There were complaints about non-existant or inadequate programming at the shelter.

The Liberal government took over the shelter from the original operator, the Salvation Army, on Jan. 31, 2019.

Earlier this spring, the New Democrats called for a coroner’s inquest into the January deaths of two women on shelter premises.

“The Yukon NDP is hopeful that the transfer of the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter to Connective and Council of Yukon First Nations will help the shelter finally realize its potential,” Emily Tredger, the NDP MLA for Whitehorse Centre, said Thursday.

“How the government manages the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter is not working for users, for staff and for downtown residents.

“There are lots of hopes and expectations around this change. I look forward to strong community partnerships, programing and a safe space for people needing emergency housing,” Tredger added.

“Connective has worked hard to build relationships in the community, and we look forward to a new approach at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter.”

The shelter replaced a smaller facility in a now-demolished building a couple of blocks further north on Fourth Avenue.

Comments (25)

Up 0 Down 0

Chuck Farley on Jun 23, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Holy F@%k; didn't touch my nerve at all, you need to get out of the basement doesn't look good on you.

Up 1 Down 1

drum on Jun 23, 2022 at 10:01 am

It should be back in the hands of the Savation Army.

Up 3 Down 1

drum on Jun 22, 2022 at 8:20 pm

It will be an even worst disaster. I want change to the downtown - not a bunch of drunks on 4th Avenue. I do not think changing Management will make any difference. It might make it worse.

Up 0 Down 1

MITCH on Jun 22, 2022 at 4:59 pm

Lots of commenters trying to pin this on the Libs.
It was the Yukon Party who came up with this ill conceived and poorly executed project that was "foisted on a Salvation Army that didn’t want it and couldn’t run it."

Yeah, if only that were true though, if only that were Trudeau. They were in from day one and the city saved their nosedive, the lord knows why...

Up 13 Down 2

AdmiralA$$ on Jun 21, 2022 at 11:23 pm

Stimulus money laundering scam. Or transfer payment transfers, whatever. Anyone still wondering why prices are going up? You must be lost in a forest looking for trees. 9 bill fiscal free money policy while monetary policy is calling for another .75 base point hike by July 15th. It is kind of like watching frogs get boiled alive while the frogs ask each other "Do you think it's getting warmer?". Well it sure looks warm in that pot.

Up 24 Down 3

drum on Jun 20, 2022 at 5:30 pm

The taxpayers will pay for all of this.

Up 40 Down 2

Paul Harach on Jun 19, 2022 at 10:03 pm

What I find absolutely amazing is that the budget to run this building has more than quadrupled under the Liberal Government in less than 3½ years. I was stunned to realize that it will now cost $120,000 per bed (25 emergency beds, 20 transitional). How many thousand Yukoners raise their family and supply food and housing for far less than this amount? Your family income needs to be $206,682.74 to earn that same 120K after tax, more if you want to include the GST that YG does not pay.
I found the following information on some local news websites with a quick Google search:
1) Frost said the territorial government will aim to offer a range of services to those dealing with addictions issues.
She added the $1.2 million operation and maintenance budget will remain unchanged.
2) The Yukon government confirmed in an email that it has approved paying Connective up to $5.4 million per year for ongoing operations and management of the shelter.
Here are the links to the complete articles:

Up 46 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Jun 18, 2022 at 1:53 pm

Turns out I have more than just two questions after reading more on this deal. As this transfer of responsibility presently has the spotlight on it, I suggest it is a good time to reacquaint Yukoners to just what this building and staff are in place to do. Is it to provide a place for homeless persons? Is it a place for substance addicted persons to seek treatment or just keep them sedated and out of sight? Is it a place for treatments to help persons to kick their dependencies on booze or drugs?
What are the benefits of transferring these responsibilities to CYFN other than to distance YG from criticisms for their poor management while at the wheel?
Is there a management plan or a prospectus of some kind to define what the expectations are for CYFN in this role? Are they to advance the programs or just tread water until the money runs out? If this is such a great idea, why doesn't both YG and CYFN give us some features and benefits to why this is a good step forward?

Up 31 Down 5

Jim on Jun 18, 2022 at 10:43 am

@BnR, you think the Salvation Army had this project foisted on them? How about they were part of the negotiations from the start, and when the contamination was found they were unwilling to budge on changing the location. Most likely due to the proximity of their existing operation. This building was quite the feather in their hat. The Liberals came to power and forced the Salvation Army out with one of the main sticking points that they required sobriety to access services. The Liberals did not like that and thought it was discriminatory. And now you have the complete s**t show we have now. I believe they even have lockers to lock your booze and drugs in to keep them safe. Liberals were also responsible for the safe injection site ( that closes at 7pm) and are spending well over 45 million for a new nursing station in Old Crow. You don’t think that may be a little difficult to staff? All political parties have had their bloopers. But to dwell on the past, does not make the current situation acceptable. Trust me, the Yukon Party took plenty of comments for the Center of Hope. What’s remains to be seen is how AFN operates this service.

Up 25 Down 6

Community Gal on Jun 18, 2022 at 10:02 am

My concern is that most of the staff at the Shelter are auxiliary on-call and YG has exempted themselves from paying stat holidays to their AOCs (yet mandated all other businesses and non-profits to pay their employees stat holidays). I predict that the payroll under the new management will quickly show increasing red ink as they will now have to make up the deficit for this government's sneaky rip off of their on-call employees. This YG AOC special status is a gravy train as you can give them full-time hours for years and still not have to pay medical, sick leave, dental, pension or stat holidays.
The ever increasing "real" government employees are being poached from private businesses and we as a society are becoming a Them and Us divided community. Almost a class system of the 'deserving' (read Liberal supporters) vs. the working poor.
One can only hope that the new alliance will provide programming and help these addicted and self-destructive clients as the YG has certainly failed to do so.

Up 8 Down 5

Holy F@%k on Jun 18, 2022 at 7:00 am

@ Chuck Fartley

Apparently I touched a nerve with you...truth hurts doesn't it?

Up 11 Down 9

No way jose on Jun 17, 2022 at 5:17 pm

Lol people bit*h and cry about FN stuff now. Maybe those people should bit*h about how Sandy Silver is doing his job.

Up 29 Down 24

BnR on Jun 17, 2022 at 2:40 pm

Lots of commenters trying to pin this on the Libs
It was the Yukon Party who came up with this ill conceived and poorly executed project that was foisted on a Salvation Army that didn’t want it and couldn’t run it.
The only people laughing was the prominent local Yukon Party family, I mean Group, that was paid market value for a contaminated lot that taxpayers got to clean up.
Just like the hospitals on Dawson and Watson that couldn’t be staffed and strained the Hospital Corps O&M this was just another YP vanity project.

Up 49 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Jun 17, 2022 at 9:05 am

Lots of inspiring words and quotes for moving in this new direction, I have two questions:
1) How will they measure success or failure?
2) have targets or objectives been established to measure against?

Up 17 Down 22

Jane on Jun 17, 2022 at 9:05 am

Appears as if the owners of the Chilkoot were first nation or owned by NDV the government would help open it up again. I’m sure the people who can't find housing are happy with the safe home people are giving them tents and toothbrushes.

Up 26 Down 7

Sheepchaser on Jun 16, 2022 at 10:02 pm

Not gonna pay for it. Time to unleash all that applicable capital expenditure from the last couple years on my tax ledger. Those of you on salary, enjoy paying for this BS.

Up 50 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Jun 16, 2022 at 8:45 pm

@Holy F@%k. The CYFN may be taking it over, but don't count on them running it. I'm more interested in where the money is going to come from and who will be the big financers of the operation. How about the government giving out that bit of information.

Up 59 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Jun 16, 2022 at 8:43 pm

"405 Alexander Street will ensure that Yukoners continue to receive person-centred and culturally-appropriate enhanced care.” Ahhhhahahahahahahahahaha. Good one.

Up 59 Down 14

Tmyk on Jun 16, 2022 at 7:40 pm

It should be noted that the shelter was running fine with minimal disruption to local businesses until the Liberals kicked out the Salvation Army and started running it themselves.

Up 6 Down 32

Chuck Farley on Jun 16, 2022 at 6:19 pm

Holy F@%k; CYFN touched a nerve did they; weather alert; as Yukon will be getting plenty of sun it's best to cover up your neck.

Up 95 Down 13

Vlad on Jun 16, 2022 at 4:16 pm

More optics here….CYFN will simply be running it and YG will be 100% funding it.

Up 90 Down 24

Mitch Holder on Jun 16, 2022 at 4:11 pm

This building ruined the downtown core for the sake of what? How many people has it truly turned around? But hey, at least all of downtown will be a drug ridden crime cesspool of safe injection sites and inclusive crosswalks for the free range mentally ill the government failed that will be camping all over the place because everyone is too good to denigrate themselves with the property management of starter homes or apartment buildings. Slow clap morons, good job. remind me to never ask you for help, not that I need reminding. I have been helping myself out of your failures for 40 years, why quit now?

Up 85 Down 28

John on Jun 16, 2022 at 3:58 pm

Hm, the fox guarding the hen house at taxpayers expense. To ensure diversity they will permit one token non indigenous person as a resident. Yes, the final piece of the puzzle, (more like the straw that broke the camels back) giving CYFN more money to do nothing, when they already get money from Ottawa to do it in their own communities. Ah, but now they get to double dip!!! Thank a Liberal and their buddies the NDP!

Better idea - send them all these slackers back to their respective FN communities and let them deal with these folks on "their" dime, well at least not on Yukon's dime.

Up 88 Down 18

Thomas Brewer on Jun 16, 2022 at 3:51 pm

Will be interesting to see if this new operator makes the situation around the Enabling Shelter better or worse. My money is on worse unfortunately.

Up 84 Down 30

Holy F@%k on Jun 16, 2022 at 3:25 pm

It's about damn time that CYFN looks after their own people instead of always blaming others and sponging on the rest of society.

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