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Work begins on new head office for mental health group

A ground-breaking ceremony was held last week at the former Salvation Army headquarters on Waterloo Avenue. It is going to be  a new head office for the Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The current building at 80 Waterloo Ave. will be demolished to make way for a new 22,787-sq.-ft. CMHA headquarters that’s to open in the spring of 2015.
It will replace the CMHA’s Delhi Street location, and it will be local chapter’s “biggest and best” facility, said Fred Wagner, the branch’s executive director.
The local branch, described as the largest CMHA chapter in Canada, has 12 service locations. It has nearly 350 employees and dozens of different programs serving people of all ages, a news release said.
In a bid to break the stigma around accessing mental health services, the ground-breaking ceremony featured two Guelph residents who are supported by the local chapter – Sarah Jones and Nazra Shaw – speaking publicly about their experiences. They both then used spades to break ground and posed for the ceremony’s official photos, with dignitaries lined up behind them.
Services to be offered at this new head office include: crisis support programs; adult services, including one-on-one case management and support; senior’s services; eating disorders support; early psychosis intervention; and human service and justice supports.
The $10.2-million building cost is being funded by the provincial Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care and by the Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network, the release said.
“This facility will allow us to deepen our commitment to providing innovative and diverse mental health services,” Wagner said in the release. “It will be a modern and welcoming building for the wide variety of people who seek out mental health resources in Guelph.”
Joan Fisk, chair of the local LHIN, said that “investments like this help to build additional capacity for the addictions and mental health community-based supports, which are such a critical lifeline for many residents in our community.”
Local MPP Liz Sandals and Mayor Karen Farbridge represented the province and the city at the ground-breaking event.
The Salvation Army moved eight years ago from its home on the site to a new citadel on Gordon Street South.

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