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City may offer support for full-time day shelter

Grande Prairie may be one step closer to getting a full-time day shelter. Community Living Committee members have gotten behind the project and have asked city council to do the same.

Since 2015, the Saint Lawrence Centre has been running a day program out of the Rotary House. When it started, Project Lead Jared Gossen was used to seeing around 30 people a day. This year he saw 82 on opening day. Because of that increase, Gossen says they are now in need of provincial funding and something more permanent.

“Need continues to grow year over year to the point where now what started as a grassroots-supported and funded initiative really has reached a level of needing serious provincial financial support. It is an essential service for a city our size especially when faced with the increased harms due to the opioid epidemic and increased homelessness that Grande Prairie is having.”

The idea of a full-time day shelter was originally brought up by Gossen at a council meeting on October 22. He asked members to support him in his plan to ask the province for around $320,000 in funding to start the shelter. He says based on operating costs and pay that’s how much he thinks he’ll need.

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“Taking into account what our staff should be working, the benefits they should be receiving and the number of folks that are in need of our services we’ve said that the number for us is $320,000 per year that we would need or that should be committed to providing these services.”

Committee members have recommended that the mayor write a letter to the province showing support for the shelter. Before that can happen, it will need to be approved by all council members at a future meeting.

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