Council gives formal approval to Friendship Centre land sale

Prince Albert City Hall -- Herald file photo.

City council has agreed to sell the Prince Albert Indian Métis Friendship Centre a parcel of land on First Avenue West to kickstart their new rapid housing initiative.

The proposal passed unanimously at Monday’s council meeting. Several city councillors took the opportunity to say how enthused they were with the new project.

“I know the Indian Metis Friendship Centre has been working hard,” Ward 3 Coun. Tony Head said during the meeting. “Having these complexes in place are, they mean a lot to the residents that live there. It’s definitely nice to see.”

Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards said he’s seen some negativity over the Friendship Centre’s announcement on social media. Like Head, Edwards said he supports the project, and encouraged local residents to do the same.

“I’m proud to support this motion, because there are active groups working towards fixing the problem, not just complaining, not just … bashing an idea,” he said on Monday. “It’s a good idea, and it’s moving forward in a positive fashion, and I think it’s important that we look more at solutions than complaining.”

Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp also said she was thankful the Friendship Centre stepped forward.

The City sold the property for $249,000, provided the Friendship Centre receives federal funding for their project. They plan to build a two-floor, eight-unit apartment building with two bedrooms for unit, with the goal of providing housing for men exiting addiction treatment facilities.

Friendship Centre executive director Janet Carriere said there is a huge need for services that support men. She’s hoping this apartment can help meet that need.

“There are supports for women and families—not enough of course. We could always use more, but I don’t see many supports that are specifically for men,” Carriere said during an interview on Dec. 7. “If we look at our institutions—our additions (rates) and all those things—there’s a higher level of men who are struggling in life than others. I really believe that if we can help heal men, we will help heal families, which will help heal our communities.”

The Friendship Centre also plans to develop a support program for men living in the apartment. It will include everything from anger management to parental training classes, along with Indigenous history and cultural programs.