Edmonton relief agency loses building, to close ‘indefinitely’ after province ends support funding

EDMONTON — An Edmonton-based charity serving Albertans for 34 years has had their lease terminated after the province decided to halt support funding.

Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society (EERSS) says it relied on provincial funding to support the maintenance of its warehouse building and subsidized rent payments for its location at 10255 104 St.

“Our greatest supporter has been the Government of Alberta,” the organization said in a statement. “Without this support, ERRSS would never have been able to continue supporting Albertans.

“Alberta Infrastructure has decided not to continue support and maintenance of the building.”

The non-profit said it had been in conversations with the province for three years and through two changes of government to agree on a solution to the building issue. Before the last provincial election, EERSS says it was provided “assurances” of continued support and a plan to purchase the building with the assistance of a local developer.

“The Government of Alberta did not go forward with the plan, as an election was called, and we were back to square one,” EERSS said.

The organization’s lease was terminated on Aug. 23. It is expected to vacate the building by Sept. 30.

“As EERSS does not have the funding at this time or support to purchase or lease a new space, we are forced to close our doors indefinitely.”

EERSS responds to emergencies to provide Albertans with essentials like clothing, blankets, and toiletries. The organization formed in 1986 and has helped Albertans through disasters, including the Black Friday tornado in 1987, Fort McMurray and Slave Lake fires, and 2018 floods in Southern Alberta.

Hadyn Place, press secretary to the minister of infrastructure, said in a statement to CTV News Edmonton that taxpayers supported EERSS with a no-cost lease at a government surplus warehouse since 1988.

“Six years ago, the society’s rental agreement was moved to a month-to-month arrangement, with the understanding that any major issues with the building may result in the society needing to find new accommodations,” Place said.

According to Place, keeping the current warehouse EERSS uses would require taxpayers to pay more than $90,000 annually for operations and around $2 million in maintenance.

“In recent years it became clear that this building was no longer feasible to maintain,” he added. “Government is managing the province’s buildings and facilities in a cost-effective way to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

EERSS is asking Albertans to donate to help the organization as they transition and move from their current warehouse. Donations can be made through their GoFundMe or Canada Helps.

“We would like to thank all our supporters and the generosity of Albertans over the last 34 years,” EERSS said. “You have made an extreme difference in the lives of those affected by disasters as well as providing the basic essentials to those affected by poverty, new immigrants and refugees to Alberta.”

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