Work finally has begun on the Salvation Army’s new location at the former Movie Gallery on Scott Street, which will replace its aging Victoria Avenue property.
Lt. Ryan MacDonald, who announced the purchase of the building back in September, had indicated many renovations were required to make the new site suitable for community outreach.
They originally had hoped to be in the building by this summer, but there was a delay in starting the renovations for various reasons.
“We wanted to make sure everybody was on board—the community, the Salvation Army, the divisional/territorial offices in Toronto and Winnipeg,” Lt. MacDonald noted.
“And that takes time,” he stressed. “It takes time to get everybody on the same page.”
But he said he’s pleased to finally see the work underway as of Aug. 2.
Under the lead of contracting company Tom Jones Corp. of Thunder Bay, the building is getting a compete facelift both inside and out.
“There’s going to be a complete gut of the building—new offices, new worship space, new family services,” Lt. MacDonald said.
“It’s going to be a beautiful building when it’s completed,” he enthused, noting the work includes drywall, paint, heating, ventilation, and electrical, as well as new signage outside.
One side of the new facility will house the retail space for the Thrift Store while the other side will feature the offices and family services, as well as a bathroom and kitchen.
“We’re just going to carry over everything that we’re currently doing into the new building,” Lt. MacDonald explained.
“Not much is going to change.”
At least not at first. Once they “get on their feet,” he said there will be opportunities to do more.
“It’s bigger, more space to work with,” Lt. MacDonald noted.
“And we’re excited that it’s going to be accessible to people from all walks of life.”
The Salvation Army doesn’t have a firm timeline for the completion of the project, but Lt. MacDonald remains hopeful they’ll be moving into the new location before the start of the Christmas campaign.
“It would be really great if we could get in there in November,” he remarked, noting the Salvation Army’s kick-off for Christmas is during the last week of that month.
“It will be a very busy time, that’s for sure,” he conceded. “But we’re ready for it.”
Lt. MacDonald admitted the Salvation Army is unsure what it is going to do with the old building at this point.
“It’s really too old to do much with it,” he said, noting it was built in 1908 and slowly has been deteriorating.
He also stressed the new location has been a long time coming, with Capt. Angel Sandoval having initiated the process of a new building back in 2010.
From there, Lts. Dennis and Mary Maybury took over the projects for the two years they were here.
Now Lt. MacDonald is thrilled to see it finally coming to fruition.
“We’ve all used our strengths and have worked hard to see this happen,” he remarked.
“Everybody’s looking forward to it,” he added. “It’s going to enable us serve the community more efficiently, on a larger scale.”
Lt. MacDonald said he’s very thankful to the community for its support with the project.
“The community has worked with us hand-in-hand . . . and were so thankful for their help,” he noted.
“The community here is just so great.”
In the meantime, Lt. MacDonald is really hopeful they won’t have to spend another Christmas—their busiest season—in their current location.
“Every donation that comes in has to go in the front door or the side door, and walk all the way through to the kitchen in the far corner,” he explained, adding the stairs and layout of the building make serving the community a difficult task.
And with all the gifts and food items that are donated at Christmas, being in the new space would be ideal.
“We’d have the room to take even more donations,” Lt. MacDonald hinted to the already generous community.
“I’m just really seeing a strong future for us in this new building.”
Lt. MacDonald said he’s already seen much growth within the congregation since he arrived here two years ago.
“We’ve got lots of programs, new worship teams, and more donors,” he noted.
“People [are] doing what they are called to be doing, which is a blessing to watch,” he added.
“We’re on track to building a better Salvation Army here in Fort Frances.”