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Construction underway for new community Cambridge Salvation Army facility

In February, The Salvation Army vacated their premises on Shade Street and moved into a new temporary location at 63 Water Street South

It’s out with the old and in with the new for the Salvation Army’s citadel on Shade Street.

Public interest into the future of The Salvation Army location has peaked in recent weeks with the building gradually being demolished.

“Speculation that the site will simply be flattened and left to sit, or that more condo buildings are going up in that space, are incorrect,” said the organization’s corps officer/executive director, Cpt. Darren Woods, in a recent new release.

“The Salvation Army is actually rebuilding on this site.”

In February, The Salvation Army vacated its Shade Street location and moved into a new temporary location at 63 Water St. S.

All activities and services continue to be offered to the public from the temporary location, excluding Sunday worship services.

“The Water Street location is not big enough to house The Salvation Army’s full congregation for Sunday worship services, so a secondary location for this activity was required,” Woods said.

“The Fairview Seniors Community in Preston has graciously rented their central auditorium to The Salvation Army each Sunday morning. And so, worship services are being held there, much to the resident’s delight.”

The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and registered charity, active in 134 countries.

The organization has been in the Galt/Hespeler/Cambridge area for 140 years and has operated from its Shade Street location since June 1950.

“A new church and community facility, that will cost almost $8 million, will be rebuilt there. All of the funding for this project was raised by the church congregation itself, and includes a significant contribution from The Salvation Army’s Ontario Headquarters as well,” Woods said.

“No grants from government or other sources have been received.”

Construction is expected to last for 18 to 24 months.

“The new facility will provide The Salvation Army with a modern, accessible, efficient, multipurpose space to be used for the benefit of the community,” Woods said.

“All of the existing programming will be housed in purpose-built space with room for expansion, plus there will be capacity to introduce new and innovative offerings as dictated by community need.”

Woods said among the new offerings being considered are a ‘Hope Café’ (a drop-in space), life-skills classes, newcomer services, expanded capacity for counselling and emotional support, and the introduction of the ‘Pathway of Hope’ case management program, all housed in a trauma-informed space.

“On top of all this, it is hoped that rental space, at affordable prices, can be made available to the public for birthday parties, anniversary do’s, bar mitzvah’s, and business meetings,” Woods said.

According to Woods, there has been some criticism that The Salvation Army has not planned for shelter space in the new building given the current housing crisis in the city.

“But the reality is that The Salvation Army does not receive sufficient financial support in Cambridge to sustainably introduce such a complex program. Therefore, they continue to assist the unsheltered as best they can through their existing programs,” Woods said.

“Activities and services currently being offered at The Salvation Army in Cambridge include a very busy food bank, the second largest food bank in the city, that provides groceries for almost 1600 people each month.”

The organization also offers food hampers for those in need, a free emergency clothing bank, a community meals and snack program, and a weekly kids feeding program. Free snacks and drinks, are primarily aimed at the unsheltered who are invited to drop in anytime and receive items such as granola bars, candy bars, and water.

The Salvation Army’s ‘Operation Hope in Cambridge’ is a mobile feeding and resource program for the unsheltered in Cambridge. The Emergency Disaster Services truck drives around the city to provide items such as a hot meal, new socks, underwear, toiletries and camping equipment, upon request.

Other programs offered include a school-supplies program, the Toy Mountain Christmas Campaign, which provides toys and gifts for almost 3000 children, weekly worship services, bible study groups, various music programs, kids groups, and zumba classes.

“Given that the new building will be primarily used for community purposes, The Salvation Army is gratefully receiving donations towards the construction costs,” Woods said.

Donations can be dropped off at the 63 Water Street South location or mailed to PO Box 27008, Cambridge, ON, N1R 8H1.