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 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. They will be completed and ready for residency in the fall of 2012.
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 counsellor and two support staff.
The new facility will also mean 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.