The building The Lighthouse calls home had its start as The Empire Hotel which was built in 1905 and was the first of the grand historic hotels in Saskatoon. While Saskatoon was known as a boomtown in 1910, when The Empire Hotel was built, it was quite a risk. The risk paid off and in 1913 a major addition was made to the hotel with a new wing and 1200 seat theatre were added.
During the 1960s the hotel name was changed to The Executive Motor Inn and the brick exterior was clad in the now familiar marble and tile finish. In the 1970s the hotel changed hands again and was renamed The Capri Motor Hotel. An interesting local note is that the Empire Hotel was the first home of CKOM radio when it launched in Saskatoon back in 1950.
In 1992 The Lighthouse was incorporated as a registered charity and was originally called the Voyageur Club. In 1997 local businessman Pius Pfieffer donated the building to the Voyageur Club which was initially was going to run Capri Place as a hostel and housing for low income senior citizens. Over time the vision for the organization changed and it focus became on providing supported housing services for those at risk in Saskatoon. In 2007, the non-profit’s name was changed to The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc.
The Lighthouse provides long term supported housing out of the facility for 68 people. Our residents are housed in 60 single rooms and 4 double suites which means that everyone has their own bedroom and washroom. All rooms are furnished with a bed, dresser and television but most residents go a long way in decorating their room themselves.
In response to a severe housing shortage in 2008, The Lighthouse opened a 17 bed emergency shelter for women and in 2009 opened up a 20 bed mat program for men. Both initiatives went a long way in ensuring that no one would be on the streets in Saskatoon.
In 2011, the Province of Saskatchewan through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation announced it would build an addition 58 affordable housing suites with a contribution of $12.92 million. The City of Saskatoon contributed $925,000. The Lighthouse’s contribution was a total of $3.2 million in both land and mortgage. These apartments fall under our Housing Plus philosophy which means that there will be additional supports to those that require them to live independently. September 1, 2012 was move in day, and the grand opening took place later that month.
The affordable housing tower also provides a larger space for a common lounge, an improved kitchen, classroom, meeting rooms, employment centre, nurse’s station, and more room for staff and support services.
The women’s shelter was created in an adjoining bingo hall and was funded by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy’s grant of $585,000. The City of Saskatoon has also contributed $160,000 for renovations.
In 2011, the Saskatoon Health Region committed $170,000 to The Lighthouse for the renovation and upgrade of nine complex needs rooms. The rooms were stripped back to the studs where new flooring, walls, bathrooms, lighting, heating, and windows were installed. Eight of the rooms are available for complex needs housing where most of the residents have concurrent disorders and have not been able to secure housing in the past. The floor is staffed by a counselor and two support staff.
The need for a safe place for individuals who were experiencing homelessness and were under the influence of drugs or alcohol was highlighted in the Saskatoon’s Plan to End Homelessness plan and through advocating of staff and clients for street entrenched individuals suffering from addictions. Through support from the Homelessness Partnering Strategy in July 2013, the Lighthouse opened their 20-bed Stabilization Unit from 4pm to 8am each night to provide a supervised, secure place to sleep for those under the influence.
In 2013, the Lighthouse launched the Up! Capital Campaign to raise funds to renovate the former hotel building along with the waterslide space within the hotel. Through the support of the community the Lighthouse was able to reach its goal of $4 million dollars in the spring of 2014, thanks to a lead gift of $1,000,000 from Leslie and Irene Dube. In honour of their gift the Lighthouse renamed the supported living tower (formally the Capri Hotel) the Dube Lighthouse. A successful Radiothon, and many private donations from the community lead up to a one time capital gift from the Saskatchewan government of $1.5 million to complete the campaign. The Lighthouse is extremely grateful to the volunteers, donors, and the Government of Saskatchewan for their support.
The theme of 2014 and 2015 at the Lighthouse has been renovations and construction as we work to renovate the remaining 58 supported living suites in the Dube Lighthouse Tower and construct three floors within the former waterslide and pool room area of the facility to house an expanded Stabilization Unit, counselling offices, music and art space, and third floor mini-gym.