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Home at Last: Welcome to the new Stella’s Place
When was the last time we met face to face? Has it been too long ago to remember? Pre-pandemic perhaps or pre construction? Or maybe you’ve never met us in person but were inspired by the vision of Stella’s Place and community-based mental healthcare, and the prospect of a brandnew, state-of-the-art mental health facility for young adults? Either way, we’ve got news for you!
We are complete! We have the keys and the certificate and a $13.8 million capital campaign wrapped up. Our new home on 54 Wolseley Street is ready to be occupied. 12,000 square feet of vibrant, welcoming space waiting to be personalized and transformed by young people.
[Above] The new Stella’s Place home. Images by Tom Arban.
The new Stella’s Place Studio room. Images by Tom Arban.
“I can’t get over the vibe of this place,” exclaims Kat, a former program participant and now a member of the Young Adult Council at Stella’s Place, “It’s kind of like you are coming home.” Maddie, who has been a council member for six years and an active participant in the co-design of the new building, couldn’t agree more: “Making sure that it didn’t feel like a hospital, it didn’t feel clinical was a big piece. We wanted to bring in the homey feel we had at Camden. People felt so comfortable and had settled into the space. You kind of have to rebuild that trust and comfort. I think we did a good job of carrying that over.”
From Co-Design to Reality
Kat and Maddie recently had an opportunity to go for a sneak peek during the final days of construction. The excitement had been building over many months…25 to be precise, 11 more than anticipated. The story of a complex renovation project during a pandemic.
Architect Robyn Whitwham from the Stantec team, a young adult herself who listened deeply during co-design, speaks with passion about what this project has meant for her and what it was like to discover the character of the old candy factory: “Every surface in here used to be covered with thick paint. And we removed it all and uncovered the history of the building: the brick, the wood… and it just gives the most perfect backdrop to the new architecture.”
Her favourite space in the building is a little nook in the Café. Here’s Robyn telling us why:
Honouring a Centenarian
Site Supervisor Terry Mazerolle and Owner’s Representative Geoff Seaborn also each have their favourite spots and stories. For Terry it’s about an intimate relationship with an over 100 year old building and respecting some of its integrity. He knows every nook and cranny, and he has preserved some elements that will surprise and delight visitors in their discoveries – an old doorbell for the former freight elevator, a “parking” sign, an old door with a pulley system…
Site Supervisor Terry Mazerolle standing outside of the new Stella’s Place building. Image by Alex Sawatzky.
Geoff’s favourite design element is the central staircase that links the Café space to the kitchen and meeting spaces on the next level.
“The Café design is such an important component of the ‘feel’ of the new Stella’s Place,” he explains.
Maddie agrees: “The Café was the piece that summed up Stella’s Place. One part of having the Café is knowing that this is your space. And you can come and get a drink, have a snack, study…you don’t feel like you are imposing, you truly feel like you are welcome to do whatever you need.”
Another important space for Maddie is the teaching kitchen. She envisions services for eating disorders, partnerships and collaborations. “The kitchen opens up space for life skills,” she explains. “If you look at the holistic approach of Stella’s Place, having access to those lessons is going to be huge.”
[Left] Central stairwell. [Right] Stella’s Place Teaching Kitchen. Images by Tom Arban
We hope these first impressions and sentiments expressed by our YAC members are contagious in their excitement, pride and gratitude. This project was inspired and driven by the love and perseverance of a mother, Donna Green, and supported by a large community of dedicated family and friends, donors and advisors, volunteers and staff, partners and participants.
Over 800 donors, countless volunteers and dozens of staff and participants helped turn the dream of a custom-built and co-designed new home into reality. If you are reading this and you are one of them, we cannot thank you enough! Our hearts are full and we are deeply grateful.
In the weeks and months ahead, the few remaining deficiencies will be dealt with and staff and participants will gradually move in. An ongoing TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) strike means that our elevator still needs to be inspected before the building will be fully accessible. We have decided to hold off on a big opening party until all accessibility needs are satisfied. In the meantime, we hope this little update will give you a glimpse of what is going to be an exciting new chapter for young adult mental health in this city.
Images provided by Stantec
See you Soon
And when you come to visit our new space, make sure to ask to see the digital donor wall where you can “meet” community members. You will hear from participants turned staff like Samantha Ledamun, who had this to say:
“I was a part of a ten week therapy program. When I graduated, I have never been more proud in my entire life. Stella’s Place really gave me the confidence to move forward into a council/volunteer role, and then they gave me the opportunity to become a DBT Peer Ambassador here. And I love my job. I love Stella’s Place. They saved my life.”
To inquire about a tour of the new Stella’s Place, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To support our programs and services, please consider making a donation here.
To learn more about the co-design process with the Stantec architect team, please watch the video below: