The main EPINSS building with a construction crane in the background. Leif Gregersen
On April 4, Mayor Don Iveson and MLA David Shepherd participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 97-unit supportive living facility in Boyle Street. The building, a project of the Edmonton People in Need Shelter Society (EPINSS), is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018.
The facility is located at 103A Avenue across from the Boyle Street Plaza. It will provide permanent housing in private suites for people with chronic mental illness, brain injuries, and mobility issues. A $14.2 million grant from the provincial government will cover 50% of the construction costs.
“The outcome that benefits every single Edmontonian,” Iveson said, “is people who interact less with the health care system, interact less with the justice system, and lead healthier, more productive lives.”
This project is the most recent among EPINSS’ extensive and long-time efforts to help people in need. This non-profit group has served the Edmonton community for more than 30 years – since 1986. Executive Director Ron Allen says the society has had a lot of success “working with folks who have burned their bridges elsewhere.”
EPINSS is currently serving 130 clients in eight buildings near the site of the new facility. However, some of these buildings are coming to the end of their useful life. So, when the new building is up and running, three of the older buildings will be demolished.
The demolition of these buildings will make space for the new Kinistinâw Park, planned for the east side of the Armature (96 Street), between 102A Avenue and the north side of 103 Avenue. The other five buildings will continue to operate. By the fall of 2018, EPINSS hopes to be able to offer enhanced services to approximately 25 more clients than before.
EPINSS clients are referred by Alberta Health Services, and some of them are people who have been discharged from Alberta Hospital. Residents receive not only accommodation and meals, but also social opportunities, recreational activities, counseling, and health care that includes 24-hour staffing. Residents are served by nurses, LPNs, and doctors, as well as workers who assist with bathing and personal care.
EPINSS encourages residents to take on meaningful activities that contribute to the community. For example, in past years, residents have looked after the flower beds along Jasper Avenue between 82 Street and 95 Street. In winter, they are regularly out shoveling snow on nearby sidewalks.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who moved to Boyle Street three years ago and loves her new community.