In four quick days, Fort St. John’s newest building has been assembled.
Crews began Tuesday putting together the new Salvation Army supportive housing complex, lifting the last modular unit into place Friday afternoon. The building is scheduled for a spring completion.
“It went really fast and smoothly. These units look high quality and I can’t wait to get inside to see them,” said Fort St. John Salvation Army Executive Director Jared Braun. “This is a building meant to last.”
The province has partnered with the Salvation Army on the new four-storey, 42-unit complex next to the Northern Centre of Hope on 99 Avenue. Each housing unit will include a private bathroom, kitchenette, and storage, and the building will also include a dining room, commercial kitchen, laundry facilities, and office space.
The modular units were prefabricated and put together “like Lego bricks,” Braun said. With the key pieces of the building now in place, next come the building tie-ins and furnishings over the winter, as well as developing programs to support the residents who will be living in the new facility.
The Salvation Army will operate the building 24-7 and provide services including daily meals, mentorship, and skills building, as well as provide a connection to volunteer and employment opportunities. There will also a space in the building for residents to meet with social workers, and address private health issues.
For many people the Salvation Army serves, whether seeing them through addictions counselling, health issues, or unemployment, affordable housing is out of their reach, and the emergency shelter is not a practical, long-term solution for them, Braun said.
“Our slogan, and I really genuinely love it, is 'Giving Hope Today'. Sometimes it feels like it’s this cyclical nature: we’re serving people, we’re meeting these immediate needs, but the long-term objective of getting them to that next step is where we are shorthanded,” said Braun.
“Now we’re able to provide a long-term home with continued wraparound support. We believe that will give lasting success, where people will see life change that prior to this they couldn’t even have imagined.”
The Salvation Army currently employs around 50 people at its shelter, store, and food bank operations in the city, and will be hiring at least a dozen more as cooks, custodians, support workers, and administrators for the new building.
Braun says driving by construction with his wife the other day was an emotional experience, and that he wants to do the community proud and serve those in need in the best way possible.
“We have to do our part as the Salvation Army to get the programs in place, the right staff in place, so that building becomes all that it can be,” he said. “You can have the building but you can’t have the programs unless you have the staff, the people, and heart behind it.”
Braun says the Salvation Army will be getting an advisory council together with local businesses and neighbours to inform them how the project is progressing and how it will benefit the area.
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