The executive director of Prince Albert’s Indian Métis Friendship Centre says she’s hopeful a new apartment complex project will get off the ground after receiving unanimous support from city council on Monday.
Council voted unanimously to sell a parcel of land at 2950 First Avenue West for $249,000 during Monday’s executive committee meeting. The sale is won’t be finalized unless the Friendship Centre receives federal approval for their project. The application deadline closes on Dec. 18.
“I feel like our community is ready for this and supportive of this and that feels good, so we can just get down to business to develop a program that is actually going to work,” executive director Janet Carriere said after the meeting.
The Friendship Centre plans to build a two-floor, eight unit apartment building with two bedrooms per unit. The goal is to help men exiting addiction treatment facilities find places to live while finding jobs and continuing with their programming.
Carriere said men typically have few supports when they exit treatment programs, which means they often fall back into old habits. She’s hoping this new apartment complex and training program will 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 explained. “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.”
With the sale agreed to in principle, Carrier said they’re turning their attention to the program itself. They plan on incorporating anger management and parental training classes along with Indigenous history and cultural programs. Carriere said they haven’t finalized anything yet, and any decisions made now may be altered or adapted later as needed.
She added that while the apartment may house some men just getting out of jail, the building would not function as a halfway house.
Mayor Greg Dionne said supporting the sale was an easy decision for city council. He said the Friendship Centre plan is just the type of thing Prince Albert needs, but it’s too early to say if the City will offer further support besides selling the land.
“It’s a need in our community, and it brings in one of our partners who are taking care of the less fortunate,” Dionne said in an interview afterwards.
“At this point, they haven’t requested anything, and that’s why we left it wide open.”