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Saint Lawrence Centre finds permanent home

The Saint Lawrence Centre is opening a permanent daytime programming space for street-involved individuals. The doors opened to the new facility located on 97A Street across from the Rotary House on October 7th.

Agency staff, as well as street-involved individuals, are being welcomed to begin visiting the facility and are asked to wear masks. As of October 10th, only agency staff and people without other shelter options will be able to access the new space, due to ongoing COVID-19 prevention strategies.

SLC Project Lead Jared Gossen says the project encountered some delays throughout the development process to get the facility up and running, but it was well worth the wait.

“There’s been a ton of work done behind the scenes from a bunch of community leaders, many from the City of Grande Prairie, many from the Grande Prairie Rotary clubs, and then lots of folks from the business community,” he explains, “right from the very beginning of identifying a space that would be a good permanent home for homeless serving programs, then taking that from an idea to financing the purchase of the building and now opening it up to people who need the service.”

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Gossen adds the Saint Lawrence Centre programming space operates on the first floor of the building. He says despite the move from the previous location in Rotary House, users can expect similar services.

“We’re providing all of our creature comforts that we had at our previous locations in a design to fit [the] new environment,” he says. “A lot of thought went into the design of the space and how best to set it up for safety not only for staff but also the individuals who come to access the facility.”

The upper floors of the building will accommodate organizations that provide support and resources to street-involved populations.

Not including the attached outside space, the shelter can currently support up to 30 people inside, including both staff and visitors, under the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 recommendations and the need for physical distancing.

Permission has not yet been granted for the new centre to be able to operate overnight overflow services from facilities such as the Oasis Centre and Rotary House, though Gossen confirms that type of support is something the team is working towards once proper inspections have been completed.

Gossen says he is confident with the addition of the permanent centre, the City of Grande Prairie is well equipped to help its vulnerable populations.

“Our services, coupled with the Friendship Centre and then also the services that are offered in the Rotary House, really, everybody will be taken care of during the day.”

The Saint Lawrence Centre is now able to support showers, laundry, Wi-Fi, breakfast for those who need it, as well as light meals in the evening. When specific social distancing measures are no longer in place, Gossen says he hopes to be able to see up to roughly 60 people at a time make use of the new space.

In September 2019, the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie committed $1 million to the development of a new daytime shelter. In March 2020, the Wapiti Community Dorm Society which operates Rotary House and the Saint Lawrence Centre was selected to run the shelter.

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