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Homeless shelter slated to close at end of month

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Oscar’s Place, the local homeless shelter, will be shutting its doors at the end of September.
The shelter posted a statement to their Facebook page on Thursday which stated they would not be in operation beyond September 30th.
The Pas Friendship Centre grievously regrets to inform the community that, due to insufficient funding and supports, they will be ceasing operation of Oscar’s Place Homeless Shelter. The Shelter will close Saturday, September 30, 2107 at 7:00 a.m.
We acknowledge and are sorry for the impact this will have on our staff, our community and especially the community members who use the Shelter,” read the statement.
The homeless shelter is operated through The Pas Friendship Centre.
When reached for comment Friday, Renee Kastrukoff, Executive Director for the friendship centre, declined to comment.
“All I have to say at this time is in the public notice. We will contact you as soon as we are prepared to give an interview,” said Kastrukoff.
Kastrukoff was out of town and wasn’t able to provide a date for her return, only stating she would be back “next week.”
Board members contacted declined comment as well.
The concern over funding for the homeless shelter is not a new one, with Kastrukoff speaking on the concern numerous times with the Opasquia Times. Members of the friendship centre also spoke to the Town of The Pas in May, seeking assistance, both potential financial help as well as assistance in other matters, such as advocacy.
Much of those funding concerns however revolved around the idea of keeping the shelter open for longer hours, so Thursday announcement came as a surprise to some. The shelter had been open from 9:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. daily during the week and until between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. on the weekends, covering the evenings and providing clients a place to stay at night.
A meeting was held for concerned citizens on Saturday afternoon at University College of the North to discuss options related to the closure. A number of people as well as some representing organizations were in attendance, as was The Pas MLA Amanda Lathlin, Opaskwayak Cree Nation Vice-Onekanew Jennifer Flett and Mayor for the Town of The Pas Jim Scott.
The meeting, hosted by Olivia McCorriston, generated close to 20 people, a sizeable number given there had only been less than 48 hours’ notice that it was going to be held and was also on a long weekend.
“It starts with the people who are here and if can have two or three good hearts it can beat 15 naysayers,” said McCorriston, who said she believed the group that supported the homeless shelter was larger than what was in attendance.
More from the meeting and the efforts that stem from it will be in the September 8th Opasquia Times.

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Trent Allen
EDITOR
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