Calgary

Calgary's Centre for Newcomers will double its space in move to Northgate Village mall

Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers is moving to a new location that will double its size and include a 200-seat auditorium, a spiritual room, gym and a storefront cafe.

New location at Northgate Village could open as early as summer 2021

This former JYSK store in northeast Calgary, together with a neighbouring former Staples, will become a much bigger home for the busy settlement agency. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Calgary's Centre for Newcomers is on the move.

The non-profit immigrant settlement agency is moving into space left by two former big box stores at Northgate Village Shopping Centre, opposite Marlborough Mall in the city's northeast.

The resulting space will give it a bigger and much more high-profile presence in the community it serves.

"Over the past two years, we've definitely grown and our partnerships have substantially grown. We really wanted a space we could create as a community hub," said the centre's CEO, Anila Lee Yuen.

"Not only will it be a space for ourselves and our clients but for the community as a whole," Lee Yuen said.

"We're really excited about it and we think it's the right time and the right place."

Calgary Centre for Newcomers CEO Anila Lee Yuen says she hopes a more visible presence will create a true community hub in the northeast. (Dan McGarvey/CBC )

The Centre for Newcomers has been helping immigrants and refugees from around the world settle and start new lives and jobs in Calgary since 1988.

The new site will almost double the space the agency has at its current location inside Pacific Place Mall, just a few minutes away.

"It's going to be huge, the entire front will have a huge sign and digital signage as well," said Lee Yuen.

The new centre will include a 200-seat auditorium, a spiritual room, gym and a storefront cafe operated by its catering component. EthniCity Catering, run out of the centre, provides work experience and training to immigrants in their transition to Canada.

"It's currently a leasers' market so it was a good opportunity for us, and our landlords RioCan have been excellent in terms of providing us with assistance to make this happen," said Lee Yuen.

She says the location is another good opportunity for the organization.

"We're even closer to lots of our partners here: the Mosaic Primary Care Network and Mosaic Refugee Clinic, the Alex Community Health Centre, Momentum, and it's a much more visible location."

A former JYSK and Staples will be transformed into a huge new facility servicing newcomers and immigrants as well as the wider community. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The new location will still be close to transit stops and northeast communities, where many newcomers settle.

Staff had input on the building design including more plants and natural light and an area for employee's pets.

"It will all improve the quality of life for both our staff and our clients," said Lee Yuen.

"The cost for us is net zero and we're really grateful for that," she said.

Lee Yuen says the move and building redesign was made possible through negotiations with RioCan. The main funder is Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Work is already underway and the new centre could be ready to open as early as summer 2021.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan McGarvey

Journalist

Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, only using an iPhone and mobile tech. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at: dan.mcgarvey@cbc.ca or tweet him @DanMcGarvey

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