Sunrise House has taken the first step towards building a newly expanded shelter. This, after a land-use permit change was approved by city council earlier this week, setting up the shelter to next apply for a transfer of the land and development permit.
Grande Prairie City Councillor Dylan Bressey says that the emergency youth shelter is hugely important to the community.
“I felt the most important part of our last city council meeting was the discussion around Sunrise House. We don’t have a place for those youth in need to go because the Sunrise building wasn’t built for this and has outgrown its size. Taking another step forward to have an appropriate place for our youth is really exciting,” he says.
More steps remain for the project to continue moving forward, but Bressey says city council had good discussions on the matter during the last council meeting.
“What council did was say that this is an appropriate land use in the area, but council still has to approve the transfer of the land and a development permit. Meaning that it still needs to come back to council a couple more times, but the first step has been completed.”
Sunrise House represents the only youth emergency shelter for not only the Grande Prairie region but also the north region. Bressey says that it’s important for youth to have a place to go in a time of need.
“I think two big differences between Sunrise House and other emergency shelters is that this one is for kids. It’s for people that are under 18, for children in our community who need a safe place to go. Also, I’ve never received a complaint from Sunrise House’ neigbours and that gives me a lot of confidence that they will integrate into their neighbourhood well,” he says.
Sunrise house has emergency access for youth, but also transitional housing for kids that are getting ready to live independently. They also have family reunification programs and wellness programs and are known for their current work in their current neighbourhood as well.
“I know the organization takes having good relationships with its neighbours very seriously and they’ve done a lot of proactive work in their current neighbourhood.”
The organization hopes to see the building of the expanded shelter start in the early spring or summer, and estimates that the facility will be ready in about 12 months after construction begins. The shelter takes in around 110-120 youth per year. The group intends to build in the Westgate area of the city, near Margaret Edgson Manor.