The 2-phase expansion and renovation of Buhler Centre has created more room for shelter beds and services for people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. The Centre was designed as a community hub and has grown from 113 to 154 beds.
3 Key Goals
Centralizing housing and services in a campus-style hub gives residents easy access to everything they need.
Community support through the successful “Make Room” campaign contributed significantly to this major project.
Expect the unexpected when renovating older buildings to modern accessibility and energy-efficiency standards.
Project scope and expected outcomes
A major Winnipeg shelter provider expands to offer more housing and supports
Siloam Mission Inc. is a non-profit corporation that was created in 1987. The organization is a vital resource for priority populations in Winnipeg, including:
- people experiencing homelessness
- people struggling with mental health
- people with physical and cognitive disabilities
- those healing from addictions and trauma
- youth who have aged out of care and are at risk of homelessness
The Mission provides emergency shelter, food, clothing, supportive housing and a range of services. It helps over 2,500 people reach their highest potential each year.
The Mission also helps people experiencing homelessness access – and keep – stable housing through a continuum of supports.
Working with internal and external partners and resources, Siloam Mission helps community members find employment through their job-readiness programs. The Mission and its partners also provide mental health support through their intervention programs and spiritual care.
Room to grow
Siloam Mission had 2 buildings providing housing to people experiencing homelessness, including a building at 300 Princess Street that had been running as a shelter since 2012. Responding to a critical need for more safe shelter beds in Winnipeg, the Mission expanded its services and recently added 41 more beds and space for programming.
The expansion was built on a large, amalgamated parcel of land that spans about 75% of a city block. The parcel was amalgamated in 2015 and was previously 4 separate parcels that included:
- 288 Princess Street
- 300 Princess Street, which was already being used by Siloam Mission as a 113-bed shelter
- 303 Stanley Street
- a small narrow parcel between 300 Princess and 303 Stanley
3 of these parcels had an existing building:
- 288 Princess Street had a 32,000-square-foot, 3-storey brick building with a basement
- The existing shelter on 300 Princess Street was a 56,000-square-foot, 4-storey brick building with a basement
- 303 Stanley Street had a 16,000-square-foot, single-storey building with a basement
The project involved renovating some of the existing buildings, demolishing 1 building and putting up a new building – and then linking all buildings to create a cohesive campus-style facility. The work involved:
- completely gutting and renovating the 303 Stanley Street building
- demolishing the 288 Princess Street building
- constructing a new 54,000-square-foot, 2-storey building with basement linking the 303 Stanley and 300 Princess buildings
- renovating 300 Princess Street to connect it with the link building
- landscaping and parking
The work was carried out in 2 phases
Phase 1 started in 2015 and was completed in October 2017. It involved site design work and renovation on 303 Stanley Street. Project costs were just over $2.8 million. Renovations included:
- gutting the existing 303 Stanley building back to the exterior walls
- installing a new roof
- refinishing part of the exterior façade
- installing all new electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems
- constructing a large dining hall and drop-in area, commercial kitchen and food preparation area, meeting rooms, art and wellness therapy rooms, and offices
Phase 1 of the project meets accessibility standards based on the 2015 National Building Code and the City of Winnipeg Accessibility Design Standards.
Phase 2 was started in April 2018 and completed in June 2020. Project costs were just over $13 million.
Phase 2 involved:
- demolishing the building on 288 Princess Street to provide land for part of the footprint of the new link building and parking
- constructing a new 2-storey link building to connect the 303 Stanley and 300 Princess buildings
- renovating the first, second and basement floors of 300 Princess to connect it with the link building
- completing the landscaping and parking facilities
As its name implies, the new link building connects all the buildings in the development, so that all areas and services are easily accessible to community members. All common areas are designed to be universally accessible.
The first floor of the 54,000-square-foot building has:
- a reception area,
- a volunteer centre for the more than 8,000 volunteers who support Siloam
- progressive services counselling rooms
- a multi-purpose area
- health centre offices and patient exam rooms
The second floor has:
- offices and meeting rooms
- a multi-purpose room
- a significantly expanded overnight shelter
The basement level includes:
- a full basement with storage areas
- a used-clothing receiving and distribution area
- a mechanical room and storage areas
- showers available for community members
- laundry facilities and a gym for both community member and staff use
The project increased the shelter’s capacity from 113 to 154 beds. Because the project opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures now limit the shelter’s capacity to 112 beds. When the shelter can operate at full capacity, the 41 new beds add a mix of emergency and transitional beds, including:
- 10 emergency beds for women
- 11 transitional beds for women
- 13 transitional beds for men
- 7 beds that can be set up for either gender as needed
For the first time, Siloam Mission is able to provide private, separate areas for women and people who identify as LGBTQ2+. These areas can be combined or separated from the men’s area depending on community needs each evening.
The Mission incorporated a shelter wise practice of providing supports that enable shelter residents to progress from emergency to transitional housing and back into permanent housing. Buhler Centre is centrally located and is close to all services, including public transit, a community centre, a library, parks, pharmacies and medical facilities.
A range of partners come together to support the project
The Buhler Centre expansion and renovations were mostly funded by donations from the public and foundations. Siloam Mission had close to 20% equity. Volunteers and private donors made significant contributions to support the shelter through monetary gifts, gifts in kind and volunteer hours. These include contributions through the successful “Make Room” campaign and a donation from Bonnie and John Buhler.
Since the shelter does not generate revenue, it also relies on donations for operations.
The project also received support from all levels of government.
- CMHC provided a forgivable loan through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund – Revitalization stream. This funding went toward the expansion for the 41 new beds. While projects generally need to be permanent housing to qualify for the Fund, CMHC provided a forgivable loan. This is because Siloam Mission meets an important community need and had secured substantial contributions to run the shelter. This loan filled the 11% funding gap.
- The Government of Canada provided operational support through its Homeless Persons Strategy. The program provides operational funding for support workers. Over the past 3 years, the program has provided $400,000 per year. The Government of Canada also provides support through its HIFIS software and database application. This software helps Siloam track and manage people who use the shelter.
- Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation provided a forgivable loan of $3 million.
- The City of Winnipeg provided a TIF grant of up to $4 million over 50 years toward future operations.
Building – and renovating – for accessibility and energy efficiency
Siloam Mission made every effort to ensure the Buhler Centre met Co-Investment Fund accessibility and energy-efficiency requirements.
All common areas of the shelter are barrier-free. Washrooms and showers for both men and women are accessible. For people who are hard of hearing, there are emergency strobe lights that work together with standard alarms.
Phase 1 of the project, the renovation of the 303 Stanley Street building, meets 2015 National Building Code standards and the City of Winnipeg Accessibility Design Standards. The building was also redesigned to meet the program’s energy-efficiency requirements.
The new link building meets universal design standards. It also achieves a 29% reduction in energy consumption and a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Initiative Name: Buhler Centre
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
National Housing Strategy Initiative: National Housing Co-Investment Fund – Revitalization
- Siloam Mission
- Province of Manitoba
- City of Winnipeg
- Bonnie and John Buhler
- Public donations
National Housing Strategy Priority Areas:
- People experiencing homelessness