Town loans food bank $220,000 for new home
Okotoks: Interest free loan clears way for organization to expand
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
Town council is assisting the Okotoks Food Bank secure its future, approving an interest free loan to help the organization buy a new, larger home.
Council approved giving the food bank $220,000 last week to go towards the purchase of a site on Stockton Point in the Okotoks Business Park. The food bank will make annual payments of $45,000 over five years to repay the loan.
The food bank has outgrown its current location in the Okotoks United Church and it has spent the last year looking for a new home so it can grow and continue to serve the community.
Food bank president Karla Lawson said the new location will meet all their requirements.
“It’s just a more open space, (it has) a bay door for loading and unloading, it’s got tall ceilings, it’s got bathrooms, a front entrance, good parking, accessibility,” she said.
The loan allows the food bank to proceed with the purchase of the new site. However, Lawson said they don’t yet have a date for when they will be able to open the doors.
The food bank will take possession of the space on Oct. 1 and still needs a development permit approved by the Town. Lawson said they also need to move in and prepare the space before officially opening.
They will be looking for volunteers to help get the building ready and donations to help pay off the loan.
The new site will be a substantial improvement over its existing location. The food bank occupies about 1,000 square feet in the main floor and basement of the church. There isn’t enough room anymore to store items after major food drives, they are maxed out on freezer space and don’t have room for new ones. As well, there isn’t much room for clients to wait inside when picking up hampers.
“The space wasn’t working well for us,” she said.
The new location is central, private, more versatile and has enough room to expand shelving and add a walk in freezer.
“The new location just provides a better layout, we definitely have additional space in it, but it’s better usable space than what we have,” said vice-president Darial Poxon.
Okotoks mayor Bill Robertson said council wanted to help the food bank continue to serve the community with the loan.
“We just had to make sure we had a business plan in place, but it was absolutely an easy decision because the food bank does such a phenomenal service in the community for those disadvantaged citizens,” said Robertson.
He said the food bank is not just important for Okotoks, but for the region. Robertson said this was evident after June’s flood when the High River food bank temporarily located in the Okotoks food bank.
“The location they’ll have now I think will be excellent,” he said.
The food bank is accepting donations to go towards paying off the loan for its new home. To donate contact the food bank, call 403-651-6629 or visit online at okotoksfoodbank.ca.