Grande Prairie city council has given the builders permission to start construction on the expanded youth shelter for Sunrise House. When complete, the building will be located on 107 Avenue near the Great Northern Casino and Margaret Edgson Manor.
President of the Board of Directors at Sunrise House Youth Emergency Shelter Richard VanderZee says quite simply, that it feels amazing.
“It’s been five years of hard work and collaboration between the City of Grande Prairie, business people, the County of Grande Prairie, and the MD of Greenview. It’s sort of a dream come true. Tenille Townes got everything going for Sunrise House years ago when the organization was in flux financially. Now it’s starting to become a reality. At this point, we are hoping to get shovels in the ground by next month.”
Fundraising for the total cost of the new facility continues to be a work in progress with about $4 million of the $5.5 million total raised to date.
“We’re right in that ballpark. The hard thing right now with fundraising or coming up with a budget is that the price of everything seems to change almost weekly. We’re trying to nail down pricing and I think a lot of our suppliers have been very good about that. We’d really like to get those bids in and lock down our supplies for the build as soon as we can,” Vanderzee says.
Construction is estimated to take between a year and 18 months, but just thinking about when the build is finished fills VanderZee with hope.
“It’ll allow us to increase our capacity. Currently, we only have room for six male and six female occupants. With the new facility, we’ll be able to have 12 male and 12 female occupants. These kids just need to be cared for. They’re coming in from difficult situations. The shelter gives them a chance to get back on their feet and realize there are adults out there that care for them,” he says.
A project like this couldn’t be possible without the continued support of the area and community, according to VanderZee.
“We have some really great people here in Grande Prairie. That includes city council, county council, and MD of Greenview council. It’s nice to know that they are there for the youth in this community,” he adds.
The building will be 3 floors and about 16,800 square feet. In addition to the 24 beds mentioned, it will have a kitchen and common area diving the male and female youth. The upper level of the new facility features 11 transitional housing suites for youth that are out of the 12-17 age range. The lower level will have a recreational area, office, food & clothing storage, plus a nursing room which will be staffed through Alberta Health Services.