Salvation Army to build $25M St. John's centre

The Salvation Army has taken the first steps towards creating a $25-million centre in St. John’s, which would replace its two buildings on Springdale Street.
The Salvation Army closed its New Hope Community Centre last year due to flooding. The building opened in 1940. (CBC)

The Salvation Army has taken the first steps towards creating a $25-million centre in St. John's, which would replace its two buildings on Springdale Street.

The charitable organization has operated on Springdale Street for more than 100 years. However, both of the buildings have fallen into disrepair and are now closed.

The Army has been operating out of the George Street United Church since its New Hope Community Centre closed last year due to flooding.

Members of the Salvation Army brass band performed at Wednesday's announcement. (CBC)

The new building would bring all of the Salvation Army's existing community and social services under one roof while also adding new services, such as 20 affordable housing units for the homeless.

"Today is a new beginning for the Salvation Army in the downtown of St. John's," St. John's chairman John Perlin said at an announcement Wednesday.

'Although many of the signature things that the Army was known for here are gone, like the Grace Hospital and the training college, the one thing that never changes is the people in need who turn to the Salvation Army for help."

Feasibility study in the works

The Army is presently conducting a feasibility study to determine if raising the necessary $25 million is a realistic goal.

In order to make the building a reality, it  would have to rely on money from government, private donors, and social institutions like Eastern Health.

The current conceptual design for the building calls for a modern, twin complex spanning three lots. It would be partially brick-coloured and part white stone.

John Goulding, secretary for public relations, said the Army wanted to keep the new building on Springdale Street because of the immense amount of poverty in the area.
Major John Goulding said there is a tremendous need for Salvation Army services in downtown St. John's. (CBC)

"The need here is tremendous, so this is why we want to stay where we are, because this is where the need is," he said.

The City of St. John's and  the St. John's Northwest Rotary Club pledged their support at Wednesday's ceremony.

The Salvation Army serves roughly 500 people in downtown St. John's.