Saskatoon Tribal Chief Mark Arcand is providing his perspective and response to remarks from a Saskatoon City Councillor about the STC’s Emergency Wellness Centre.

On Monday, Saskatoon City Councillor David Kirton posted a letter to his website entitled “stop manufacturing homelessness” where he spoke on the EWC. Kirton says he sent this letter to the Saskatchewan Government on April 24.

In the letter, Kirton spoke highly of the STC’s work at the centre, but brought up concerns he has heard from residents in the Fairhaven neighbourhood where the facility is located.

The City Councillor called on the provincial government to intervene and provide more supports for the STC, the wellness centre, and the relatives. Kirton also called for a review of the wellness centre and it’s location.

On Tuesday morning, STC Chief Mark Arcand provided his response to the letter at a press conference at the STC head office in Saskatoon where he says he was “blind-sided” by the letter and had no knowledge about it until he was informed by his staff Wednesday morning.

“My so-called partners in the City of Saskatoon and Ward 3 Councillor David Kirtan never even gave me a courtesy call about this letter,” said Arcand. “I was blindsided this morning about this letter and I have no part in this because I believe we have a strong relationship with the Province of Saskatchewan in battling homelessness.”

The Tribal Chief acknowledged the concerns brought up in the letter on behalf of the residents of Fairhaven, but says the STC and the province are working to address these concerns. Arcand says many of the concerns raised by Kirton have been discussed during weekly meetings with the province.

“We talk about complex needs and we have said it from day one. We talk about families and we have said it from day one,” said Arcand.

“I can assure you that when I have conversations with the province we sit at the table and talk… we don’t send letters to the media and try to cause controversy and that’s what I see in the letter.”

The provincial government has provided $4 million in funding for the STC to operate their Emergency Wellness Centre. According to Arcand, negotations are ongoing for what that funding looks like moving forward. He did say that since the wellness centre moved to the permanent location in Fairhaven the City of Saskatoon has not provided any funding.

“The province is stepping up and putting money into the homelessness problem, but the city is not stepping up.”

Arcand called on Councillor David Kirton to put forward a motion for the City of Saskatoon to invest $1.5 million into the STC Emergency Wellness Centre for operating costs.

“He’s got to start doing action instead of complaining, because right now he’s not helping the problem – he is actually fanning the flames, which is not right, he’s playing politics with people’s lives.”

David Kirton has not yet provided comment on Tribal Chief Arcand’s remarks.

(PHOTO – STC Chief Mark Arcand speaks with reporters at the STC head office in Saskatoon.  Photo by Joel Willick.)