Main Street Project launches capital campaign for new building

Winnipeg's Main Street Project has kicked off a multimillion-dollar capital fundraising campaign to help pay for renovations to the building that will become its new shelter.

Shelter raising money for move into former Mitchell Fabrics building

Main Street Project has launched a capital campaign to help pay for renovations to the former Mitchell Fabrics Building. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

Winnipeg's Main Street Project has kicked off a multimillion-dollar capital fundraising campaign to help pay for renovations to the building that will become its new shelter.

The shelter plans to move from its 2,100-square-foot building on Martha Street into the former home of Mitchell Fabrics, increasing its capacity from 85 to 150 people.

The campaign, called It's Time, launched Thursday and aims to raise $2.5 million to augment government funding for the work.

"We've had nothing but positive support and input from our government partners, but we also want this to be a community-based initiative — we want the community to have some ownership," Main Street Project spokesperson Al Foster said.

"Given what we witness on a daily basis and given what we're hearing in the news every day about increased meth use in the city and the impacts it's having on so many sectors in society, we thought there was just no better title for a capital campaign of this kind than 'It's time.' "

Main Street Project, created in 1972, is a not-for-profit community health agency with a mandate to address social issues that give rise to addiction, mental health and chronic health conditions and homelessness.

'See us through'

Foster said a capital campaign committee has been created, with local business, political, labour and Indigenous leaders involved.

"We've launched this campaign to see us through to the finish line," he said.

"We heard nothing but positivity and excitement about what this space will mean for the downtown core."

The shelter announced plans to purchase the new building at Main Street and Logan Avenue — which is 17 times larger than its current location around the corner on Martha — for $2.6 million in late September.

People living on the street in Winnipeg will get a big boost next year, in the form of a big expansion of a local shelter. Main Street Project has bought the old Mitchell's Fabric building for 2.6-million dollars. 2:09

Once it is open in late 2019, the new shelter will have room for at least 120 beds, with separate spaces for men, women and members of the LGBTQ community. The plan is for the space to hold wraparound supports and be accessible 24 hours a day.

In addition, guests will have access to a 24/7 cafeteria, counselling facilities, a laundromat and storage for clothing and identification cards.

The Main Street Project has talked about running a safe injection and managed alcohol program at its current shelter once it is freed up, but Foster said those plans are unrelated to the new building.

To operate a supervised injection site, the facility requires provincial and federal approvals. So far, the province has resisted similar ideas.

Current plans are to use the old building for detox and treatment.

Renovations to the new space have started, Foster said.

"The costs and the time associated with redeveloping this space are actually relatively small," he said.

"This is something that we'll be able to turn around in a relatively quick period of time."

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson