The St. Albert Community Village and Food Bank is one step closer to securing a spot for a new building after city council agreed to consider city-owned land for the facility.
City staff will now look at using 65 Carleton Drive in Campbell Park for either a stand-alone food bank building or a combination of the food bank with another facility.
Debate among councillors Monday revealed hesitancy over the location and concern about the possibility of setting a precedent by giving up city land, but when the vote was called only Coun. Bob Russell cast a vote against the motion.
Coun. Cathy Heron brought the motion forward after a June 12 presentation from food bank board president Charlie Schroder, who delivered the organization’s vision for a new building.
The food bank currently operates out of 50 Bellerose Drive, where it shares a building with the RCMP. Although the nonprofit organization has a lease until 2024 for the space, a proposed expansion of the RCMP would mean they would need to leave.
“The city is not pushing us out of here, but they would like to take over the building,” said Suzan Krecsy, executive director for the food bank.
Heron said approving the motion would give assurance to the food bank and to the city that the new facility would be planned.
“I feel we have some responsibility to take care of them and make sure that they’re moving forward,” she said.
“This is just to make sure they’re considered in facility planning.”
Krecsy said the organization is grateful for the decision and called it “a really generous gift.”
“(Council’s decision) is really good news to us, that we’re going to have a new home,” she said.
The wording of the motion caused the most debate at council, particularly the specification that the land “be considered” for use.
City manager Kevin Scoble said the motion means city staff will be able to present options to council, which could include having the food bank at 65 Carleton Drive along with other services but added the motion does not limit staff to considering only one site.
“We are trying to look at all available properties … and see what may work where,” he said.
Before passing the motion, councillors failed to pass an amendment that would have removed 65 Carleton Drive as the location under consideration. That amendment, moved by Coun. Sheena Hughes, aimed to give staff flexibility to choose whatever location they think would be best.
Hughes said she felt the location in Campbell Park would be a poor one for a food bank due to its lack of centrality and poor transit accessibility.
Krecsy said the organization chose 65 Carleton Drive for several reasons. The location would have better parking than the food bank currently has, would be in a more private location for people who may be uncomfortable accessing the food bank’s services, and is the right size as well as being city-owned.
Coun. Cam MacKay said the consideration of land for the food bank concerns him as there is no guarantee yet that the food bank will be able to build its own facility.
“I’m concerned a blanket policy like this would set us up to say yes to every organization that comes forward,” he said.
Charlie Schroder, board president for the food bank, said the organization will begin fundraising for its new building in 2018 and has hired a professional fundraiser. He anticipates they will need to raise between $3 million and $4 million.
The food bank is currently deciding between two proposed designs for the building.
“The amount depends on the proposal we choose,” he explained.