There has been a looming need for change to provide a safe Saskatoon city centre.
The executive director for Downtown Saskatoon, Brent Penner, estimates close to half of his time involves fielding and dealing with concerns around security and safety, with many of those concerns stemming from the Lighthouse Supported Living facility.
We have heard from many residential and commercial tenants who have stated they will not remain downtown if these issues are not solved.
I was therefore very pleased to see Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, Social Services Minister Paul Merriman and Saskatoon Tribal Council chief Mark Arcand, along with assistance from the Saskatoon Interagency Response group, announce a core area safety pilot project.
The details are yet to emerge, but the province and the city have both committed to an investment in the collaborative effort.
Success will require help from many stakeholders
I have been a very vocal advocate for the need for change.
This recent announcement is evidence the mayor and Merriman have been listening to the citizens of Saskatoon and I sincerely applaud them for taking these important initial steps.
There is, however, more yet to be done to maintain the vibrant downtown that Saskatoon had become known for.
The current city and the provincial administration have demonstrated leadership.
A win-win solution is required for this very difficult issue, though any plan will also require heroic local philanthropic participation.
Providing safe housing and programs as the winter starts closing in, and we continue to deal with the pandemic, is going to be a challenge.