The grand opening of Amethyst House in Red Deer finished with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday afternoon. (L-r) Theresa Therriault, Red Deer-North MLA Adriana LaGrange, Mary Gardiner, Graham Barclay, Christine Stewart, Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen and Coun. Michael Dawe. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Amethyst House hosts grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s only permanent supportive housing unit has officially opened its new home.

The Amethyst House, formerly known as the Buffalo Hotel, held a grand opening ceremony for its new, larger facility Friday afternoon.

“I’m really excited to show it off today and all the things we do,” said Christine Stewart, executive director.

The new facility, located at the former Econo Lodge building on 50 Avenue, just on the south edge of the city’s downtown, will be able to house an additional nine tenants struggling to maintain stable housing.

“Everyone needs housing and some people just need a little more support,” said Stewart.

“For the last 10-plus years we’ve housed 39 people and now we’re housing 48. Many of the people we house have just been unsuccessful maintaining their housing for various reasons.”

The program, run by the Canadian Mental Health Association, will have at least three staff members available 24-7, Stewart said.

“People pay their own rent, they live their own lives, but if they need support, we have staff here to help.

“We deal with a lot of individuals who struggle with their mental health, so if someone is feeling suicidal at 3 o’clock in the morning, they have someone they can come talk to. If someone is struggling with substance use and is really feeling out of control, staff will help support them and figure out how to handle that.”

Stewart said tenants moved into the facility about a month ago.

“We wanted to wait until we were comfortable and settled in … and make sure the tenants feel settled before we brought people in for a grand opening,” said Stewart.

The name comes from the amethyst stone, which “is considered to be a protective stone,” said Stewart.

“It’s helpful in purifying and clearing it of negative thoughts, stress or anxiety. Amethyst can act as a barrier against unhealthy environments,” said Stewart.

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