A Bagot Street property that once housed a grocery store has sat vacant for close to a decade, but now the for-sale sign is down.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston has purchased the valuable real estate.
St. Vincent de Paul executive director Judy Fyfe says the site, nearly an acre in size, cost just over $1 million.
“We had a wonderful donor come by and say they would cover the cost for this property,” Fyfe explained.
St. Vincent de Paul serves over 20,000 meals a year, operates a food pantry and has a warehouse stocked with clothes and household items to help the municipality’s most vulnerable population.
Currently they offer those services out of their current site, which consists of about 5,000 square feet between two buildings.
Already over their storage capacity, Fyfe says the demand for their services only continues to grow.
“This year alone we saw 248 new households signed up for our emergency food pantry,” Fyfe said. “We’ve seen a 52 per cent increase in the number of people seeking a hot meal.”
Fyfe says they don’t currently have the space to conduct private conversations with the individuals seeking their help.
“We really saw that our hands were tied in terms of the impact we could have,” she said.
Along with expanding the volume of their current services, Fyfe says the society has started conversations with other organizations to increase the range of what they offer.
“Perhaps some programming to deal with employment, any self improvement things,” Fyfe said.
“We had a lot of call for people wanting yoga classes they could afford.”
Some of those suggestions and ideas came from an online survey and feedback received at Memorial Centre Market.
Fyfe says she’s well aware that for their plan to work, there has to be buy-in from the community in which they plan to build.
“We were able to talk to people who live in this community but who may not use our services,” she said.
The information gathered at the market has been invaluable, Fyfe says, as they continue to develop their vision for the new location.
“We really got a sense from them about what they thought about us relocating and what they would like to see happen,” Fyfe said, “and some of that feedback was really informative as to what direction we should take.”
Fyfe says those community conversations will continue.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston will begin a capital campaign in the new year with plans to complete the build and move in the next two years.