After nearly a year of planning and renovations, St. Paul Family and Community Support Services finally opened the doors of its new facility to the public. Town Councillors Tyson deMoissac and Brad Eamon, Deputy Mayor Norm Noel, MLA David Hansen and Ken Dropko, Executive Director of the FCSS Alberta Association, were in attendance to celebrate the grand opening and view the building.
Discussions surrounding a new location for St. Paul FCSS began in June 2017 after staff and members of the community raised consistent concerns about the level of accessibility and safety at the current FCSS location in the basement level of Town Hall.
“We had no ramps and no elevators and so the only way to get to us was by the stairs,” said St. Paul FCSS director Lynn Smid. “We have a lot of seniors and a lot of parents with young kids and strollers who come to our programs, but it was nearly impossible for them to get to us. We felt that it wasn’t safe having those stairs and that we weren’t seeing the growth that we could be seeing being of the deterrent to seniors and young parents.”
Additionally, community members often struggled to locate FCSS since it was below ground and was not visible from street level. Thus the new location, just west across the street from Town Hall, was renovated with accessibility as the top priority. Smid and other FCSS staff offered tours of the new building at the grand opening, which now houses a boardroom, office space, and storage space on the west end of the building, and complete laundry and kitchen areas and a large Parent Link Centre filled with toys, games, and areas for activities on the east end. Lighting was also upgraded from fluorescent lights to LED lighting.
The laundry and kitchen facilities will also be extremely beneficial, as staff have often had to use their own personal laundry for FCSS and Parent Link business. But perhaps most importantly, everything is contained at floor level, with a separate entrance and stroller parking for Parent Link visitors.
“Until you’ve had to cram a stroller into a tiny area with a crying baby, you won’t appreciate the value of a nice area to park your stroller,” Smid laughed.
Though rain and chilly temperatures prevented some of the planned outside activities from taking place on Friday, FCSS staff were thrilled with attendance at the grand opening.
“This place was completely packed in the afternoon, and it seemed that most people were generally pretty impressed with what we now have to offer,” Smid said. “We’re extremely happy with our new building and we can’t wait to see the positive effect that it has on our visitors. It’s a perfect facility and gives us exactly what we need.”