Alberta pledges $1.2M to upgrade 17 shelters in 7 cities

​The Calgary Dream Centre shelter is getting provincial money to fix its elevator.

Officials at Calgary Dream Centre plan to repair aging elevator

Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services, left, speaks with officials and residents of the Calgary Dream Centre. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

The Calgary Dream Centre shelter is getting provincial money to fix its elevator.

CEO and executive director Jim Moore says the building is 38-years-old and some of the 125 men who live there are disabled, which adds a layer of difficulty when the elevator is down for repairs.

"Some of them can't do stairs, so when the elevator was down for two months, we had to make alternate arrangements to move out a whole bunch of men into other, safe places," he said.

The building was purchased in 2003 and at the time the elevator was roughly 25 years old.

"We spin ahead 14 years and the elevator is now 38-years-old, and many of the men who are sitting here have pushed the button for the elevator and it wouldn't come," said Moore. "Or they got inside the elevator and the door wouldn't open or close, or they got caught between floors."

Calgary Dream Centre executive director and CEO, Jim Moore, says repairs to their elevator were badly needed. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Moore said officials were told by the manufacturer — Otis — during recent modernizing, the elevator would have to be shut down because of its age.

The money was part of a provincial investment of $1.2 million for maintenance and upgrades at 17 shelters in seven cities, including:

  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Fort McMurray
  • Grande Prairie
  • Lethbridge
  • Lloydminster
  • Red Deer

In Calgary more than $500,000 will be shared between:

  • Calgary Dream Centre
  • Calgary Drop-in Centre
  • Inn From the Cold
  • Mustard Seed
  • Salvation Army
  • YWCA Mary Dover House

The Dream Centre is an important place for residents like Martin Sewap, 53, who called it one of the few positive influences in his life. He was in bad shape physically when he arrived three years ago, having been an alcoholic for nearly 30 years.

Calgary Dream Centre resident Martin Sewap said the shelter helped him get clean after being an alcoholic for nearly 30 years. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

"I was not in good health at all," he said. "Over time, I was starting to feel better, but there was certain things I had to deal with. A lot of emotions I had neglected for so many years and all of a sudden it was a floodgate coming out, for the first time in my life I was starting to feel. I didn't know what to do or where to go, that's when Dream Centre said 'We will love you until you learn to love yourself.'"

Sewap is now enrolled in school doing upgrading, with plans to study addictions counselling.

Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir met recently with homeless and formerly homeless people to learn about barriers to getting out of poverty.

"We recognize that to truly end homelessness, we need to address more than just immediate needs and do more than simply allocate funding," he said.

With files from CBC's Andrew Brown