News / Edmonton

Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society needs new home

After 28 years, lease is up at the end of the month.

With a fixed income and three grandkids, Carole McIntosh relies on the thrift store for both staples and gifts. She's also started volunteering there.

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

With a fixed income and three grandkids, Carole McIntosh relies on the thrift store for both staples and gifts. She's also started volunteering there.

Flipping through a rack of winter coats Tuesday, Carole McIntosh comes across a thrift store score: A cozy knee-length winter coat with snap buttons.

Price? $29.

“I’m here all the time, looking for the best deal for my buck. It’s the only way I can make ends meet,” she said, standing at the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society Tuesday.

Part thrift shop, part donation centre, the society has long been a valuable resource for people across the city. But now its future is up in the air.

The society’s lease on their 24,000 square foot space, on 104 Street near the new arena, is up at the end of the month. While they won’t be out on the street immediately, the building’s owner, Alberta Infrastructure, intends to sell.

“The building is at the end of its life, and the systems are at risk of failing, but as long as we own the building and it is safe and habitable, the society is welcome to stay,” Minister of Infrastructure Brian Mason said.

The society has been in the same location for almost 30 years, and in that time the province has been a generous landlord: They charge the society no rent and cover about $92,000 in annual operational costs.

But while Mason said they’re looking at other buildings owned by the province as alternatives, there aren’t any contenders yet.

Nicole Geoffroy, the society’s spokesperson, said they’re asking community members for suggestions for alternative spaces.

“Everybody is definitely feeling very nervous,” she said.

In addition to the thrift store, the Society is a major centre for donations of used clothing, household goods and toiletries intended for people in need.

“Whenever there is someone who needs help — whether that be a fire victim, refugee, low income person, the list is endless, then there is never a price tag for anything here,” Geoffroy said.

They moved more than 1,000 pallets of used clothing just for Fort McMurray evacuees.

“We don’t ask questions or judge, we just let people come in and leave with what they need.”

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