‘Need to do better:’ Boyle Street Community Services on the move with $13M fundraising goal, aging building sold to Oilers Entertainment Group

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Boyle Street Community Services’ deteriorating building has been sold to Oilers Entertainment Group in a move to expand the organization’s existing social services.

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However, the inner-city organization, which helps those experiencing poverty and homelessness and was once home to a safe consumption site, will not be moving far.

Boyle Street’s new 10010 107A Ave. site is just two blocks north from its current 10116 105 Ave. location. It’s a move that is six years in the making, said Jordan Reiniger, the organization’s executive director.

“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,” Reiniger said.

“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.”

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Pedestrians makes their way past the future home of Boyle Street Community Services at 10010 107A Ave., in Edmonton, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. Photo by David Bloom
Pedestrians makes their way past the future home of Boyle Street Community Services at 10010 107A Ave., in Edmonton, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. Photo by David Bloom

Reiniger said it was important to community members and clients that Boyle Street stayed in the same area, and the new facility provides that opportunity. It is two-and-a-half acres, with a building that has two floors, each with 25,000 square-feet, plus a basement and a large outdoor space. It also includes Trinity Manor, a 38-unit apartment building.

“Not only does it allow us to renovate the space to be what we need it to be, but we can have now some significant outdoor space that will really support people to be in dignified outdoor environments, and allow us to have some ceremonial space outside right in the heart of our city as well,” he said.

It’s an opportunity to provide wrap-around services to the community, instead of individuals having to go from one service to another.

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“Our current model is we have a very large drop-in and then services kind of throughout the building,” Reiniger said.

“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.”

The addition of Trinity Manor also allows Boyle Street to provide housing for clients.

“It’s a lower income apartment building, and so we’re going to continue to operate in that way and continue to provide that level of support, with an extra level of support for housing once we move in next door,” Reiniger said.

With the city experiencing mental health, homelessness, and drug poisoning crises, Reiniger said the situation is dire on the ground and the community needs to do better.

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“This building is part of that strategy of saying, 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,” Reiniger said.

“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.”

A rendering of the new Boyle Street Community Service’s building. Boyle Street has sold its existing building, and will be moving to a new space at 10010 107A Ave. (two blocks north of the current location). Supplied image.
A rendering of the new Boyle Street Community Service’s building. Boyle Street has sold its existing building, and will be moving to a new space at 10010 107A Ave. (two blocks north of the current location). Supplied image.

The total project cost is $28.5 million, but thanks to the sale of the current building for $5 million and a $10-million donation from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, the organization is more than halfway to its capital campaign goal to develop the new location.

In January, Boyle Street will kickstart a campaign to raise the $13.5 million needed to reach the goal.

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“Anytime we’ve asked for the Edmonton community to step up, or when we needed help, they’ve always stepped up and came and actually delivered more for us than we ever needed,” Reiniger said. “So we’re very confident that we’ll be able to get this done.”

Boyle Street has been in its current facility in the Reaney Block building since 1996. The building is the organization’s fifth home since its establishment in 1971.

The organization will continue to operate out of the current building, across from Rogers Place, until construction of the new facility is completed, with an anticipated opening date in the summer of 2023.

ajunker@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

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