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'It's a beautiful space': Boyle Street secures permit for new location, despite community outcry

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After having its development permit revoked amid public backlash, the leader of Boyle Street Community Services says the agency has a green light to move to a better building.

Last year, 15 groups, including a pair of community leagues and the Victoria School of the Arts Parents Coalition, opposed the permit for a new location in The King Thunderbird Centre.

That building is at the corner of 107A Avenue and 101 Street, about two blocks north of the current location overlooking Rogers Place.

The Subdivision Appeal Board (SDAB) revoked the permit following a hearing on Nov. 10, but after Boyle Street removed certain features like the kitchen, the project was back on track Tuesday.

"It's a beautiful space and it's a statement, I think, to the people that we serve that they matter in our community," said executive director Jordan Reiniger.

"Our current facility on 105 Avenue is quite literally crumbling. There's a lot of infrastructure challenges, it was a banana ripening warehouse, so it's just not meant to do what we're trying to do in there."

Boyle Street provides help to homeless people in Edmonton, including mental health services, cultural support and holiday meals.

The McCauley Community League opposed the new development permit citing improper zoning, some residents had safety concerns and several groups in Chinatown argued the move was a chance to spread out services for vulnerable people to different parts of the city.

“There is a level of social disorder that we see with these agencies that are in the area,” said Hon Leong of the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society last summer.

“I would look at it as the first opportunity to act upon [city council's] mission, which is to decentralize social services in this area.”

The Oilers Entertainment Group bought the current Boyle Street building in 2021 and the agency has since raised $22 million of its $28.5 million goal for the new centre.

"It's been a long journey for us to find the right facility for us to get the project going," Reiniger said.

"We've had a lot of hoops to jump through, and so, to be at this place today, we're celebrating and really excited about where we're at and the future of this project."

Boyle Street hopes to open the new facility in 2024 and is fundraising to make it happen.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Woodman and Adam Lachacz

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