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The facility on 99th Avenue can house up to 64 clients.

Captain Deb VanderHeyden says the locked facility is divided into sections.

“The bottom floor is ‘low barrier’ which means we acknowledge the fact that you may be engaged actively in an addiction.  You may not bring anything into the building, but we acknowledge that you may be under the influence.  On the second floor is ‘high barrier’ where you may not be engaged in an addiction.  Our expectations for you, in your life, are higher on the second floor, than they are on the first floor,”  said VanderHeyden.

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The centre is currently serving some 40 clients, however, while it flucuates VanderHeyden is quick to point out it’s not necessarily based on the time of the year.

“No, it doesn’t.  Fort St. John is a busy place and people are coming into this community at all seasons.  There’s more work available in the Winter, so maybe on the Mainland doesn’t realize that, and may come up at a bad time of year.”

Mayor Lori Ackerman has deep roots with the Salvation Army as a former member of the team.

“I started working with the Salvation Army in 1997 and I worked with them for five years.  It was the Winter that we opened our first ‘manned’ shelter.  It was the first time I had seen the Salvation Army take a goal and, just, do remarkable things to dissolve all barriers and make it a reality.”

Ackerman says it took close to 17 years, “through community contributions the community, the partnerships that have come forward for a lot of our local businesses.  They have seen the need for this type of facility, here, and they know the economic growth were anticipating and they’re fully aware we need a facility like this,” Ackerman added.

The mayor closed by saying it’s a true indication of Fort St. John residents — if there’s a need, they’ll find a solution.

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