The need for a new facility in Fort St. John is great for a number of reasons according to the Salvation Army. The current building used by the Salvation Army is already running at 130 per cent overall capacity, and has other limitations such as no segregation for males and females, and is only able to offer light meals with the kitchen it currently has. With the population of Fort St. John increasing ten per cent in the last twelve years, and continuing to climb, the issues in the current facility would only get worse say members of the organization.
Captain Deb Vanderheyden is with the Salvation Army. She says it’s essential to get a better facility in the community.
“There is a great need in Fort St John for a building like this. You would see in our current building there is very little room, and we struggle to provide the services that we do,” she says. “Once we move here, we will have more rooms for beds and classrooms, so clients can learn and grow together.”
The province is investing approximately $3.2 million, which includes $1 million for redevelopment, while the Salvation Army will contribute $1 million in cash equity.
The finished product will see the Salvation Army be able to offer a building that is double the size of the current one, and offer ten more beds for the homeless, as well as another 34 for transitional housing.
The project is especially import to Mayor Lori Ackerman who has worked with the Salvation Army in the past.
“I actually was hired by the Salvation Army in 1997; I was the family service director here for the community. I was raised to not give a man a fish, but teach them how to fish,” she says. “We needed to be able to give them the skills and knowledge to integrate into society and be contributing members.”
The Salvation Army’s Light of the North is expected to open in November. Anyone wanting to donate to the cause is encouraged to call the B.C. Division at 604-299-3908.