By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Boyle Street Community Services has announced that it will be relocating to a new building downtown.
A mid-December news release from the organization that the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society shared touts a “dynamic partnership” with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and Oilers Entertainment Group for making it happen.
The new facility is located at 107th Avenue and 101st Street — two blocks away from the current location — and will be open within a year. Adjacent to it is Trinity Manor, a 38-unit apartment building that has also been acquired by Boyle Street and will provide housing for its clientele.
“Our new facility will be purpose-built, allowing Boyle Street Community Services to better serve the most vulnerable in our city. This new site will feature an interior space that is beautiful, welcoming, accessible, and designed for the needs of the people we serve – all things our clients deserve,” the release reads.
The new site will also have “natural outdoor space, including a community garden, a courtyard, private patio spaces, and – truly the most exciting – space for Indigenous ceremony, including a sweat lodge right in the heart of our city!”
The agency has worked with Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, Indigenous Elders, and trauma-informed architects to create the best possible experience for residents of the new facility.
Boyle Street executive director Jordan Reiniger told the Edmonton Journal that the organization has been planning on moving for the past six years.
“Our current facility is not fit for purpose. It was an old banana ripening warehouse and we’ve kind of made do with it for the time we’ve been here,” said Reiniger.
“But it’s not accessible. A lot of infrastructure is crumbling, it would take a significant amount of money to get it to the place where we need it to be and even at that it wouldn’t be ideal for us.”
He told the Journal the goal is to provide a hub for community services so individuals don’t have to go to multiple places.
“What we want to do is create smaller community spaces, so have multiple sort of community spaces that are warmer, more inviting, more conducive to relationship building and community building. And so we would have four or five of those in the building as opposed to one large drop-in,” Reiniger said.
He said the new facility represents an acknowledgement that “we need to do better and we need to serve people in a way that is reflective of the dignity and the value and the worth that we all know that they have and what they deserve.”
“People shouldn’t be suffering the way that they are. And this isn’t a full solution to the whole problem of homelessness, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Reiniger.