Food bank reveals building plans

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The St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village is hoping council will help kickstart its fundraising campaign with a donation of land.

On Monday, president Charlie Schroeder presented the not-for-profit’s vision for a new facility and asked council to support the project through the donation of a parcel of land.

The $3.1 million- to $4.9 million-project would consist of a warehouse and an adjacent two-storey office building that would house food bank staff, a community kitchen and other partner organizations. The city’s Community and Social Development (formerly known as Family & Community Support Services) department has also expressed interest in occupying the new building, said Schroeder.

Currently, the food bank leases space in a city building at 50 Bellerose Dr. The lease doesn’t expire until 2024, but there is potential interest in using the building to meet the St. Albert RCMP’s additional space needs.

This is the first time the project has been presented to the public.

“We’ve been working on this project for approximately two years, getting our ducks in a row,” said Schroeder. “We feel that we have a strategy and a builder that we’re confident in and are ready to go ahead.”

The food bank plans to finance the building through a combination of grant funding and donations. Schroeder told council that the provincial and federal governments are more likely to contribute if they see that the city is supportive of the project, and asked that this support take the form of a donation of land.

Should the food bank be unable to secure grant funding however, Schroeder is confident the citizens of St. Albert will step up to cover the full cost of the building.

“We’ve been assured by a professional fundraiser that the project is very doable. I think the real question is how long will it take?” he said.

Without support from the three levels of government, the timeline is likely to double from three years to seven.

Schroeder sees this as a win-win situation. By donating the land, the city could get access to the Bellerose building earlier, while the food bank gets more stability through a purpose-built facility.

City manager Kevin Scoble confirmed that the RCMP does have need for additional space, but said that the Bellerose building is one option out of many.

“We don’t have any definitive plans at the moment,” he said.

The food bank has looked into leasing a new space, but there is a limited supply of available warehouse space in the city.

One of the benefits of the purpose-built facility is the capacity to house other partner organizations. The food bank works closely with a number of community-based social agencies to ensure continuity of care. Having some of these organizations occupy the same building would make accessing services easier for residents in need.

The food bank is in talks with one interested partner organization, but the details of those conversations remain confidential at this time, said Schroeder.

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Michelle Ferguson