‘A really, really good fit’: St. John Ambulance settling in after August move to Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus

St. John Ambulance Training and Location Manager Kelly Pollock (right) and administrative assistant Lauren Pollock (left) pose for a photo in the organization’s new office on the Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus in Prince Albert.

After 27 years in downtown Prince Albert, St. John Ambulance has found a new home.

The non-profit safety training and wellness organization moved to their new location on the Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus in August. They previously spent 27 years in the old Bank of Ottawa building in downtown Prince Albert.

Training and Location Manager Kelly Pollock said it’s a bit strange to be out of their former headquarters and in Sask. Polytech.

“I pretty well spent more time at that old building than I did at my own house for 27 years,” Pollock said with a laugh. “It was like home, but as a non-profit … we just didn’t have the money for the upkeep of the building.”

Pollock and her co-workers made the move roughly two months after the building sold. Their new location is significantly smaller, which has forced them to re-evaluate their course offerings.

Equipment for training programs like the St. John Ambulance Medical First Responder Course has been moved to Saskatoon due to lack of space. The move also means St. John Ambulance has to rent out some classroom space to host courses on weekends.

Still, Pollock said the move has been great for the organization, which has only seen an increase in demand for training opportunities.

“It’s actually been a really, really good fit,” she said. ““We’re pretty well booked every day…. I have to leave a day in between for cleaning, but it hasn’t affected (demand) because now we’re getting the Polytech students … and the instructors.”

The new St. John Ambulance classroom at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus in Prince Albert. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

St. John Ambulance moved to the old Bank of Ottawa building from their previous location on the Prince Albert Exhibition grounds. Pollock said the downtown location had its benefits, but they couldn’t afford the repairs and upgrades necessary to keep working.

The biggest hit came when the non-profit had to pay $55,000 to get the roof repaired. Afterwards, Pollock said, they had to admit they couldn’t afford that kind of upkeep.

Thanks to the move, Pollock no longer has to do landlord duties. Instead, she can focus on the organization’s mission.

“It has been, for me, a blessing, because for once in 37 years I’m not a landlord,” she explained. “I’m not a building manager. Nobody’s going to come and tell me were out of toilet paper, the lightbulb burned out, the door handle’s broken. It’s just been unbelievable.”

There are still a few challenges though. Pollock said the biggest one has been getting the word out about their new location.

Even a couple months after the move, she still gets phone calls from residents or officials who are standing outside their old downtown location wanting to know why they can’t get in. Pollock said she can’t see the organization purchasing another property. There are too many benefits to being on the Sask. Poly campus.

“I don’t think we’d every go back to owning our own building,” she said. “It’s only been a few months, but it has been a perfect fit for us.”