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A walk in their shoes

A walk in their shoes.
The Call Goes Out… to support the new, Local Salvation Army Community & Residential Services Building ‘Journey to Life, to Open in 2020

By Sherry Hanes

As most of you may or may not know, locally and presently in 131 countries, The Salvation Army is running charity shops, operating shelters for the homeless and disaster relief and humanitarian aid here and in developing countries.

The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London by one-time Methodist circuit-preacher William Booth and his wife Catherine as the East London Christian Mission, and can trace its origins to the Blind Beggar tavern. In 1878 Booth re-organized the mission, becoming its first General and introducing the military structure which has been retained as a matter of tradition. Its highest priority is its Christian principles. The current international leader of The Salvation Army and chief executive officer (CEO) is General Brian Peddle, who was elected by the High Council of The Salvation Army on 3rd, August, 2018.
The Salvation Army (TSA) is a Protestant Christian church and an international charitable organization. The organization reports a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million, consisting of soldiers, officers and adherents collectively known as Salvationists. Its founders sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both their "physical and spiritual needs".
The theology of the Salvation Army is derived from that of Methodism, although it is distinctive in institution and practice. A peculiarity of the Army is that, it gives its clergy titles of military ranks, such as "lieutenant" or "major". It does not celebrate the rite of Baptism and Holy Communion. However, the Army's doctrine is otherwise typical of holiness churches in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition. The Army's purposes are "the advancement of the Christian religion ... of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole".

As with any construction project, large or small, before a shovel ever touches the ground, there is a lot to do that really goes unnoticed.


Before the local project could begin, Major Lori Mitchell, Executive Director, Thunder Bay Journey to Life Centre Salvation Army shares this with us: “The current building, (located at 545 Cumberland Street North) was built in the 1950’s and has numerous structural issues, but more than the building, was the need to provide more enhanced services to our clients. We had been using ‘Band-Aid’ solutions – warehousing people rather than helping them to find their best selves and have the best life they can have. Our Journey to Life program will provide skills development training in a safe, residential environment to help move men through the system rather than keeping them in it. The new building will help us to have the adequate residential and program space to do all that we envision and will be purpose-built. The first step was the national Salvation Army offering us $5 million as startup funding. We then had a commitment from our regional Salvation Army and we ourselves committed funding as well. Then we went to every level of government and pitched the Journey to Life idea – with the building as a means to an end rather than the end in and of itself.”
From Salvation Army team, to architect, general contractor, and the trades, and government officials, these are just some of the people, companies and organizations, that are ultimately involved in this major undertaking: Major Lori Mitchell names those involved “Vinny Mithra -The Salvation Army Territorial Property Consultant and Project Manager; Julia Coley-Philips - The Salvation Army Divisional Property Consultant; Major Lori Mitchell, Executive Director, Thunder Bay Journey to Life Centre; Anthony Yozipovic - MBuilds Project Manager, Cory Stechyshyn - Project Architect and Andy Puiatti - Associate Architect - i4 Architecture; Erik Knudsen, Dave Shalley and Franco Gorenszach - TBT Engineering, Lisa Sandham Interior Design and Werner Schwar, Landscape Architect. We have a commitment from CMHC – through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund; from the Investment in Affordable Housing through the Canada-Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) for Ontario Extension Program and the Canada-Ontario Social Infrastructure Fund (SIF) Investment in Affordable Housing Program (administered through the TBDSSAB); and from the City of Thunder Bay. We are also in process of a capital campaign for $2.5 million, of which we have already raised 67%. Gail Kromm is our Community Engagement Manager and I am the communications officer. We have been quite happy with MBuilds. Everyone we have dealt with, from Peter Belluz to everyone on the tea, has been very professional and knowledgeable and great to work with. Construction, and all that goes with it, is not my expertise, but Anthony takes the time to make sure I understand what is going on and why. Tony Tesolin, the site supervisor, is doing an amazing job of coordinating all the trades. Everyone on the site – from any of the subtrades, is respectful and hardworking – there seems to be a real spirit of cooperation. Everyone understands how important this project is, not just from a construction standpoint, but from a service standpoint. The project changes every day – right now the steel supports are almost completed and the pre-fab walls are being installed; the plumbing work is in process as well as the main electrical work. We get to watch it happen from next door and every day there is something new.” Earlier in the year, Patty Hajdu, the minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced a $3 million contribution to the project through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund.


M Builds’ Project Manager, Anthony Yozipovic also provides some project details that help us to somewhat, visualize the ‘behind the scenes’ orchestration of this much needed facility. M Builds (previously Manshield Construction) was first awarded the $15.5 project in early February of 2018. Anthony Yozipovic tells TBB Magazine: “From the outset of the award, we have been working in unison with the Salvation Army and the Consultants through each phase of the design process reviewing and evaluating building systems, building layout/organization, construction processes and construction details to provide cost effective solutions to deliver the building within the Client’s budget and allowing them to meet their program requirements. Following the interdisciplinary design and budgeting phase, tendering of the project and Clients fundraising efforts, we were able to mobilize mid-June of 2019. To date we have completed the building foundations and site servicing and are 80% complete on structural steel, floor and roof decking for the three-storey structure. Structural steel will be complete at the end of September and our prefabricated exterior wall panels are currently being erected making way for the roofing to commence in a few weeks. We are scheduled to have the building closed in by the end of October and windows installed by early November. The new building is being constructed at 545 Cumberland Street North, on land adjacent to the existing shelter. When the Salvation Army takes occupancy of the new building in late Summer of 2020, we will demolish the existing shelter and complete the new parking area designated to be built at this location.”

Speaking of the construction features of the new build, Anthony also had this to say: “One of the unique features of the building that Robert our chief estimator conceived and developed along with the consulting team (I4 Architecture, TBT Engineering) was to prefabricate a panelized wall system that could be erected and secured onto the steel structure in a very short time period. Due to the fact that we have a very short construction season in Thunder Bay, this system is allowing us to enclose the building in record time, which will allow the roof and widows to be installed prior to the onset of winter. This system is saving our Client on heating and hoarding enclosure costs and will provide a dry warm environment for the interior construction to progress without the complications of working in the extreme cold that we tend to see in this area. Also, utilizing this hybrid pre-manufactured exterior wood frame wall panel system is unique in a building that will not be sprinklered (due to the Clients program requirements) and is required to be constructed of non-combustible construction. This hybrid system required involvement by a third-party fire engineering specialist that have enabled the panels to be pre-fabricated locally out of wood in a building which would have otherwise not been allowed. Other unique features of the new building include a Living Wall, a Wellness Centre, a two-storey round Chapel with locally inspired finishes, a new modern kitchen with a separate gaming kitchen for the preparation of wild game. The Journey to Live Centre is also unique in itself facilitating an environment for the residents to grow and develop new life skills and preparing them for life within the community.”
The general contracting team of M Builds, working together on this project, is Anthony Yozipovic - Project Manager, Tony Tesolin - Site Supervisor, Robert Little - Chief Estimator, Peter Belluz - General Manager.

Peter Belluz of M Builds, (previously Manshield Construction), also commented on this great project and had this to say: “The Salvation Army project has been a collaboration between Cory Stechyshyn of i4 Architecture, the owners Vinny and Lori, and M Builds construction management team. M Builds has been fortunate to be involved in the design of the facility as it relates to the construction during the winter of 2018/2019. During that time, M Builds became very familiar with the workings of the existing facility and the Salvation Army staff’s goals for the new facility. M Builds assisted in evaluating the design concepts for the construction of the new facility, including items related to staff function, circulation and space requirements, decorative features and aesthetics, and constructability of the structure and envelope. The details were ironed out with the project team during weekly construction management meetings, budgeted over the course of the winter, and circulated to subtrades for tender in the Spring of 2019. Due to M Builds involvement in the planning of the construction, there were no surprises to the Owner when the subtrade tenders were received this Spring, and the Salvation Army was able to give final approval of the design and budget in June of this year. I am pleased to report that construction is progressing well on site, with enclosure of the building scheduled for the end of October. Because of the pre-construction work completed this winter, there has been a minimum of requests for information and other questions from the site which has allowed the project team to focus on the construction work, quality and safety on site.”


As most everyone knows ‘M Builds’ is the rebranding of Manshield Construction and since 2000, the year Belluz became a Partner with M Builds, the company has completed over $400 million in construction in Northwestern Ontario. The projects are varied in scope and nature, and include: construction of the Pinewood and Roseview long-term care facilities in Thunder Bay; office and retail developments, including Canadian Tire and Home Depot stores; Confederation College REACH facility, the Goldcorp Emergency Response Building in Musslewhite; the Atikokan General Hospital addition and renovation; and industrial projects like the Rockcliff Reservoir for the City of Thunder Bay. The rebranding of Manshield to M Builds evolved as follows: The letter "M" pays homage to our history, while the word “Builds” clearly describes what we do. We not only build buildings - we build legacies, we build communities, we build careers and we build relationships with some of the best Clients in the world. The letter "M" is the 13th letter of the alphabet - right in the middle. Like Manitoba being the geographic centre of Canada, we like the view. It’s a place where you have a perspective of seeing both sides of an issue, and being able to provide balance and clarity.
President Cory Stechyshyn, I4architecture, of Thunder Bay,
The $15.5 million project has received $7.5 million from the Salvation Army, $1.3 million from the province, and $500,000 from the city.
The new Journey to Life Centre and the programs offered, including transitional housing, is focused on helping people recover from all kinds of circumstances, get back on their feet and out of homelessness.
Major Lori Mitchell: “If individuals, families or businesses want to be part of something great in northwestern Ontario, they can donate to our capital campaign by phoning 807-345-6492 or by mail at 545 Cumberland Street North, Thunder Bay ON P7A 4S2. We appreciate all the support we have received thus far and we are confident that we will meet our fundraising goal.”
The Salvation Army, General Contractor, M Builds and i4Architecture … working together for the greater humanitarian benefit of society and the community, as a whole.

As they old saying goes: ‘Charity begins at home.’ Please help.


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