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The province will invest approximately $3.2 million, which includes $1 million for redevelopment, while the Salvation Army will contribute $1 million in cash equity. The facility, called the Light of the North, will be funded year-round by both the Salvation Army and B.C. Housing.

Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing,  says this has been in the works for two years, when he committed to doing something in Fort St. John.

“When we started the housing initiative, we said it’s not about cutting ribbons and it’s not about more bricks and mortar, it’s about the people,” he explained. “We want to wrap the services around the people so we can actually give them an opportunity to succeed. That’s what this is about.”

The renovations are expected to be finished and the building open for use by August 2013.

There will be 10 minimum-barrier transitional beds, 20 shelter beds and 26 transitional beds. Although the floor plans are still being finalized, there are hopes to include family suites as well. In addition to beds, there will be access to on and off-site services, life skills and addiction programming, and a drop-in meal centre six days a week. Legal pro-bono help will be available, as well as a “mom and tots” group.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman says that quickly developing cities like this one need to give citizens opportunities to start again.

“As the city expands, it’s good to see that the Salvation Army and B.C. Housing has stepped up and worked together to make this a reality for the community.”

Coleman added he hopes this facility will be the first step to help people transition towards more stable housing and changing their lives.

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