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WCSS opens new centre

Spring Creek location includes Food Bank, employment-counselling programs

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It's been more than three years since the Spring Creek Children's Centre closed its doors as a result of a combination of factors — including room sizes that were too small by provincial standards to recover the cost of providing daycare services.

It is set to reopen at the end of January as the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Social Services Centre, a new hub for all of the Whistler Community Services Society's (WCSS) outreach and administration.

"The plan is to provide dedicated office and programming space for four major non-profits and meeting rooms for community groups and volunteers," said Lorna Van Straaten, the executive director of WCSS.

The other three groups in the space include the Howe Sound Women's Centre, which will be providing additional services out of the facility including a drop-in centre; Sea to Sky Community Services and Zero Ceiling.

The WCSS's current space at Spruce Grove will revert back to the Whistler Arts Council, which owns the building but has moved its own operations to Millennium Place.

WCSS will assume the full costs of the new centre, which reverted back to the Resort Municipality of Whistler after the daycare closed.

For the WCSS, concentrating all of their programs in one location was one of the reasons they wanted the space.

"It is amazing to have all staff and programs under one roof," said Claire Mozes, Outreach program manager at WCSS. "It will be much easier to host programs and events in our space for a variety of reasons.

"Our outreach staff will all have dedicated private office space to meet with clients. Currently four staff share one space for this purpose and it is also our staff lunchroom."

The Food Bank will benefit from a larger storage space, as well as a large garden that will be funded with a grant from the Community Foundation of Whistler. There's also a sink and toilet, simple amenities they were not able to provide in their Food Bank trailer.

WCSS also has plans to share the space with other non-profits.

"To be able to walk in one door and get help from a variety of different resources without having to retell your story or search for another resource when you are under great stress in invaluable," said Mozes.

Programs that will be operating out of the space — located just past Spring Creek Community School along the Valley Trail — include Outreach support programs, the Bulk Food Buying Club, the Support Network of Whistler life coaching services, seniors programming and more. The full list of WCSS programs is at www.mywcss.org.

One new program is the Howe Sound Women's Centre space, with the first women's drop-in Centre for Whistler. An open house at the facility will be held in February.

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