PAGC says ‘immediate focus’ is on providing permanent homeless shelter after meal service closure

Moose Lodge employee Caroline Britain prepares a lunch for a client at Moose Lodge Wellness Centre on Friday, July 28. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) says it plans on coming forward with a permanent solution for the city’s homeless following the closure of the Moose Lodge.

The Community Cares Kitchen – also known as the Moose Lodge, named after a homeless man who died – was established during the pandemic. It operated through PAGC Urban Services.

A news release said the exhaustion of COVID-related funding is what caused its doors to close.

“Moose Lodge stood as a symbol of compassion and community support. Its closure highlights an urgent and growing need to find sustainable, dignified solutions for our most marginalized community members,” said Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.

“This setback pains us, but it strengthens our resolve. This isn’t just about temporary measures; this is about building lasting bridges that elevates our community’s most vulnerable members.”

The Moose Lodge served its last meal on Friday at the Union Centre downtown.

According to coordinator Natalie Clyke, the centre served around 320 meals a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. She described its closure as having a “traumatizing impact” on clients, but would also impact police, ambulance and hospital services.

The PAGC said its “immediate focus” is collaborating with other agencies to provide shelter, especially during extreme weather. It said other organizations serve meals to vulnerable populations.

“We have been and will continue to engage in regular dialogues with key community stakeholders, fully understanding the multifaceted challenges in offering consistent support. We must collaboratively create solutions that honour and uplift every individual,” said Executive Director Al Ducharme.

According to a news release, stakeholders discussed issues surrounding people on the streets at a meeting late last year. It included the City of Prince Albert, the Riverbank Development Corporation, YWCA and the Friendship Centre.

The PAGC said it’s been supporting the Moose Lodge without stable funding for the past six months.