A file photo of Rotary House, which serves as Grande Prairie’s homeless shelter.
The local daytime shelter, known as the Saint Lawrence Centre, is searching for a new home after announcing Thursday that it would not reopen at Rotary House.Jared Gossen, project lead for the Saint Lawrence Centre, made the announcement through a post on the shelter’s Facebook page.“The Saint Lawrence Centre will not be reopening at Rotary House,” Gossen stated. “We have a prospective location and are in the midst of preparations and fact finding. If everything goes as planned, we may be officially open again in August/September.”Serving as a homeless shelter in Grande Prairie, Rotary House was recently required to reduce its emergency population in order to comply with capacity regulations. In a previous interview, Gossen said this and other changes on a provincial level prompted the Saint Lawrence Centre to temporarily shut its doors several weeks ago.Gossen noted how visible poverty, such as tenting and loitering, had been recently increasing in the downtown core.“I am happy to report that the nature of the crisis our community is facing has not been downplayed by our municipal leaders,” he said. “City leadership and administration have been acting quickly to come up with a plan to keep people safe while Rotary House and the centre regroup.”The Saint Lawrence Centre itself had provided a space where the homeless can stay during the day. A separate mat program provides overnight services at Rotary House.Gossen explained that while fundraising would continue, such as its second annual Open Hearts Open Doors fundraiser on Friday, the centre would not offer services until it works out the details for its future.“Due to the unknown costs and operational considerations of a new location we have made the decision not to attempt interim activities apart from some simple outreach to keep in touch with folks who depend on our services,” he said.In recent weeks, Gossen and others in the homeless sector have met with stakeholders to work on a plan to provide those who have been displaced with access to showers, laundry and shelter for spring/summer.Gossen encouraged the community to keep engaged with the issue of homelessness.“One of the greatest silver linings in all of the hardship is there has been a groundswell of interest from residents of Grande Prairie about what is and is not available for people in our community,” he said. “Grande Prairie has experienced a major setback in our ability to meaningfully support marginalized folks in our city. It’s going to take more of us to recover what has been lost.”