The folks at the Surrey Association for Community Living were in a party mood Friday morning, holding a jubilant grand opening for their newly-renovated building in Cloverdale under sunny September skies.
The scent of fresh popcorn and hotdogs being served up on the grill filled the air, as the unmistakable sounds of karaoke in progress wafted down from the deck on the second floor, sending celebratory vibes out across the parking lot, where a crowd of friends, neighbours and families gathered.
The official ribbon-cutting was held beneath a glittering archway of gold and turquoise balloons.
The Sept. 16 event marks an exciting new chapter for the association, which offers a range of support programs and services for people with special needs.
Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux, also Minister of Children and Family Development, praised the association’s decades of service in the community – and the values of inclusion, respect, dignity and caring it represents.
“The Surrey Association has been providing that sense of community here through residential programs, through day programs, through employment programs, and most recently through home share and supportive employment, both of which I think are so important,” Cadieux said.
“The evidence of the growth and expansion and rebirth of this building, just shows how much more is possible.”
Constructed in in 1974, the original two-storey building at 17687 56A Avenue was overdue for an update. It was leaking, wasn’t up to code, and wasn’t accessible.
It was cheaper to renovate than tear it down completely, according to executive director Coreen Windbiel.
It was originally home to the Surrey Credit Union, and SACL purchased the building in the mid-1980s.
The renovation project represents a complete overhaul. Most of the building was demolished, except for three exterior walls, and gutted.
Everything else is new, including electrical and mechanical systems, an elevator, and a roomy second-floor balcony with skylights.
Trilogy Homes Ltd. oversaw the project, which included extensive seismic upgrades and a new roof.
For anyone involved with Surrey Association for Community Living (SACL), the past 18 months must have felt like the corporate version of couch surfing, with various departments housed in alternate digs while renovations got underway.
The administration team moved in with the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association and the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce on 176 Street until last May.
Another department was housed in the suite of a group home; while a third took up temporary residence in a group home garage.
The day program moved to a location just behind the building last December – the initial target date for completion of the renovation.
“We were supposed to be in the new building by then, but had so many road blocks with the city,” she said, explaining that departments moved back in stages.
Nearly two years later, the renovations complete, the association’s offices and programs are now together under one roof.
The building is home to 28 employees and an average of 40 individuals daily take part in programming based on the second floor – but most are out in the community during the day.
“We are going to have more events like this,” Windbiel said of the grand opening. “It was awesome to have the community of Cloverdale come see who we are and what we do.”
Upcoming plans include using the new coffee shop space for training for everything from barista and cleaning to serving.
“We will be offering coffee by donation,” Windbiel added. “I hope we can give back to the community of Cloverdale with hot coffee and a snack for those who cannot afford it. Cloverdale has been good to us!”