At-risk youth arts program looking for new space

A program that helps at-risk youth stay off the streets through art is looking for a new place to go.

Ottawa Innercity Arts is a program run by Ottawa Innercity Ministries. They operate in a space in St Paul & St Peter’s Church on Metcalfe Street.

“Most of the kids are leaving home because of domestic violence. As bad as the streets are - home is much, much worst,” says Executive Director Ken MacLaren.

But the church needs to close off a section of the building for required construction. It says it doesn’t want to leave the group without a space- but the renovations are necessary for safety.

“(This includes) electrical, the heating, we are going to do some painting put some new windows and walls and make it all up to safety,” says Rev. Dr. Canon Brent Stiller.

The construction also includes making the building more accessible including building an elevator. Construction could last for at least a year.

Stiller says he hopes this is only a temporary displacement, “We’d love them to come back if possible.”  

The group, that helps over 50 youth, has been looking for months- so far, they have been unsuccessful. There have been some offers but none that can be a permanent home or affordable. The program runs completely on donations.

Jay Labovitch has been going to the group for a few years. She was once homeless. “I am a recovering addict... so I didn’t have an outlet for a really long time. I am a very emotion filled person. So I love having an outlet for that.”

Labovitch is still hopeful they will find a permanent home soon. “It’s a little daunting,” she says. “I think we will find it, it’s just a matter of patient. But I really hope someone will lend a hand and help us out.”