Southern Saskatchewan shelters affected by the cold snap

By Sarah Taguiam, Metro News Saskatoon, February 25, 2014 - The continuing deep freeze in southern Saskatchewan has emergency shelters in Regina and Saskatoon feeling a strain due to heavy use and dwindling resources. “The extreme cold certainly impacts what we do,” Martin McCarter, executive director of Salvation Army Regina’s Waterston Centre, said on Tuesday.

“The more people we have means an increase in duties for housekeeping and in the kitchen for meals,” he explained.

“We’ve had budget assessments looking at how we can maintain the services we provide.”

The Waterston facility has 52 beds, including 20 recent additions. McCarter said they’re almost always full.

Saskatoon’s Lighthouse Supported Living has also been affected. According to spokeswoman DeeAnn Mercier, the shelter doesn’t have enough winter gear such as mitts, toques and jackets to hand out.

“It’s really sad,” Mercier said. “People are asking us for mitts all the time, and we just can’t seem to keep enough of them on hand.”

Through social media, Lighthouse has reached out for donations. The shelter also recently held its first Coldest Night of the Year Walk, which raised more than $40,000.

Mercier wants Lighthouse to acquire winter clothing and to expand its stabilization shelter for users with drug or alcohol addictions.

“It’s been a very long and cold winter,” she said, “and it’s been a constant battle. But we always find room for anyone in need.”

Environment Canada meteorologist John Paul Cragg, for now, can offer little comfort in the region’s forecast.

“We’re just in a pattern where cold arctic air is streaming in with no Pacific air to moderate the temperature,” Cragg said.

“This year, it does look like spring is going to be delayed.”

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