THUNDER BAY -- A shovel in the ground marked the start of the Salvaton Army's construction of their new Journey to Life Centre.
The ceremonial beginning came on Wednesday for the state-of-the-art centre, which is planned to be standing by the end of 2019.
The new building is set to replace the deteriorating North Cumberland Street shelter, a repurposed hotel which was acquired by the Salvation Army in 1971.
Resident Peter Gallagher knows the value of the Salvation Army in Thunder Bay.
“It needs a big change… They’re due for a new place,” Gallagher said. “Salvation Army is remarkable in what they do, they’ve done a lot for me. Now they will get to do it on a big scale.”
The groundbreaking marked the official launch of the campaign to fund the remaining $2.3 million capital costs of the centre. With $8 million in funding already secured, the Salvation Army has the go-ahead to begin construction.
“In order to really serve our population, we need the proper facilities,” Mitchell said.
The new building will be about twice the size of the existing one, and will include a wellness centre, dedicated program space, and a wild game kitchen.
“It will have more of an opportunity for privacy and dignity for the residents,” Mitchell said.
The $8 million already raised has come from a number of sources, most notably the $5 million contribution from the national headquarters. Provincial investment totalled $1.3 million though an affordable housing program.
Locally, the city put forwards $500,000 and the Thunder Bay Community Foundation presented a $350,000 cheque from an anonymous donor at Wednesday’s event.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” national communications director Lt. Col. Jim Champ said in regards to the speediness of local funding. “Thunder Bay is known for its generosity and its willingness to help those that need it,”
For the remaining funds, Mitchell says she’s optimistic the money will come through, and will work stage-by-stage to meet the expectation of a 2019 ribbon cutting.
“There’s a number of different stages,” Mitchell said. “There will be direct asks to people who have the means, there are naming opportunities, and towards the end we’ll do a public campaign.”