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Wapiti Community Dorm Society to operate new shelter

The Wapiti Community Dorm Society says it has been selected by the City of Grande Praire to run its new daytime shelter. The group currently runs Rotary House and the Saint Lawrence Centre.

The non-profit has signed a two-year service contract for the Prime Property Management Building across the street from Rotary House. The City of Grande Prairie made an offer for the property in November 2019.

The decision also means the Saint Lawrence Centre will be moving its operations from Rotary House to the new building. Saint Lawrence Centre Project Lead Jared Gossen says the $1 million donated by the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie for the project will go towards improving service for users.

“The building itself has two parts. The lowers floor will be used for our daytime drop-in activities and supports. The upstairs, the process hasn’t really been hammered out, but virtually there will be complementary services.”

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Now that the Saint Lawrence Centre has a permanent home, Gossen believes deepening the quality of the shelter will be its focus.

“One of the limitations of our current space is that the Rotary House was built about ten years ago and the world has changed since then on streets of Grande Prairie. Number one is making sure people feel comfortable in space but that we’re also focused on safety.”

Gossen adds renovations will turn the space into an open layout with corners for staff to keep a better eye on those using the facility.

The Saint Lawrence Centre has been housed in Rotary House since 2015, after first opening at the Salvation Army. Gossen says the new space will give them room to breathe.

“Over the five years we have opened we have gone from serving 30 people to 110 or 115 people per day.”

Gossen adds, had another organization in Grande Prairie be awarded the new shelter’s contract, services at the Saint Lawrence Centre would continue. The opening date for the new facility has yet to be announced.

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