COURTENAY, B.C- The Wachiay Friendship Centre has officially purchased their home.

The Courtenay-based institution received $250,000 to purchase their building, located along McPhee Avenue. The structure used to house 98.9 the Goat.

The purchase was meant to give the centre a stable base of operations, and it numbers among sixty other not for profit programs across the province receiving funds from the Community Gaming Grant program.

The building was officially blessed with cedar branches on Thursday afternoon, after speeches and Aboriginal drumming from the Lady Drummers. A lunch for everyone in attendance followed.

Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em elder Verna Flanders dances during drumming prior to the official blessing of the Wachiay Friendship Centre building on June 7th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Cedar branches are waved during the official blessing of the Wachiay Friendship Centre building on June 7th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Lunch is served after the official blessing of the Wachiay Friendship Centre building on June 7th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard spoke on behalf of the province at the event, and took part in the blessing ceremony.

“It’s pretty thrilling,” said Leonard.

“To know that they’ve been in the community for 23 years and providing a leadership role that’s been growing and growing every year, on so many fronts, on housing to social programs, it’s a pretty exciting place. I’m quite honoured to be a part of today’s celebration.”

Wachiay’s Executive Director, Michael Colclough, said that the decision to purchase was made around two years ago, with a down payment of $500,000 made possible through the gaming grant and saving.

“We now can do anything we want with the building, and that’s great,” said Colclough.

“We can develop the entire building. Our mission, our vision, is to develop the entire building with all non-profit delivery of services. We have, in all, approximately 40,000 square feet that we can develop.”

Colclough indicated that the centre will be adding on new services and programs as they expand through the whole building. As for what services will be looked at, he said that there were several project being looked at, with the possibility of a low-income housing project for seniors being added on to the facility’s parking lot.

“We want to create an environment for them where they won’t have to look after a home, things like that, not as much responsibility,” said Colclough.

He indicated that seniors who were living on their own would be the target residents, though the project would require a re-zoning from the City of Courtenay.

Above all, the centre plans to develop programs that will help the community.

“Everyone wants to own a house, everyone wants to be employed,” said Colclough.

“What we’re doing is not just for the Aboriginal community, it’s for everyone in our community.”