Government of Yukon to open warming centre at Jim Smith Building

The Government of Yukon is opening a warming centre in the Jim Smith Building from March 18 to May 1, 2024. In line with the Downtown Whitehorse Safety Response Action Plan and efforts to provide additional essential support services in downtown Whitehorse, this pilot project aims to improve accessibility to safe warming spaces for all, especially vulnerable populations.

Yukoners will be able to access a range of services in the Jim Smith Building's old cafeteria, including computer and internet access, outreach services, warming areas, snacks and beverages, harm reduction supplies, period products, and washroom facilities, as well as the opportunity to connect with peers.

This initiative will be staffed and supported by two onsite workers and one outreach worker. This outreach worker will be relocated from the Whitehorse Public Library to the Jim Smith Building warming centre during the upcoming temporary library closure. Staff will be responsible for ensuring a safe, inclusive environment, focusing on community support and wellbeing. The Government of Yukon is dedicated to maintaining the highest safety standards, with regular monitoring of public spaces such as entryways and bathrooms.

An evaluation will be conducted at the end of the pilot period to assess the program's viability and impact. This evaluation will inform decisions about the continuation and potential expansion of the program, ensuring that it remains responsive to community needs.

This initiative is a testament to the Government of Yukon’s dedication to improving the lives of vulnerable individuals and reflects a broader commitment to creating a safe, inclusive and thriving downtown Whitehorse for everyone.

The public warming centre at the Jim Smith Building's old cafeteria is a realization of our commitment to being there for every Yukoner, especially those in vulnerable situations. As we strive to create a space of safety and support, we also learn and grow in our understanding of the community's needs. Through this project, we hope to reflect the values of compassion and inclusivity that are at the core of our work. Our government is committed to continually adapting our approach for the betterment of all.

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee

Our government is dedicated to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all Yukoners. The warming centre at the Jim Smith Building is just one step we can take to help ease the challenges faced by vulnerable members of our community and meet them where they are at. Providing a secure space in a central location for essential services contributes to a sense of community and we remain committed to exploring ways to continue to address the needs of Yukoners as well as help ensure required amenities are more accessible.

Minister of Highway and Public Works Nils Clarke

Quick facts 
  • The Jim Smith Building warming centre is a collaboration between Health and Social Services, Community Services, and Highways and Public Works.

  • Operating hours for the warming centre are from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, from March 18 to May 1, 2024.

  • The program's space plan includes designated workstations, washrooms, and break areas for staff, ensuring a well-organized and efficient operational setup.

  • The program incorporates thorough security, janitorial, traffic management, and IT infrastructure plans, with a detailed budget accounting for furniture, communications, and compliance with legal standards.

  • The program's budget includes an estimated $30,000 for setup costs and $20,000 for salaries and contracts.

  • The Jim Smith Building is located at 2071 2nd Avenue in Whitehorse.

  • Safe at Home Society (SAHS) recently announced the opening of a warming centre at the former High Country Inn through the end of March 2024.

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur 
Cabinet Communications

Zachary Burke
Communications, Health and Social Services


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