The St. Paul Abilities Network was founded by parents and volunteers wanting education and support for their children with disabilities. Families came together to begin planning for children with developmental disabilities.


The agency was formally organized and registered as a society made up of a cross section of families and the community. The agency experienced several name changes over the years, in keeping with the inclusive nature of services to person(s) with disabilities.


New Hope School was constructed to offer education and training exclusively to students who had special needs.


The St. Paul School District #2228 took over operation and administration of New Hope School in January.


A residence was built. Initially the residence was an eight bed facility for children with disabilities. Care and services were provided by hired “house parents”. Over the years this facility has been home for many children with disabilities and experienced many changes to fit the service needs of its residents.  The home was referred to as the “Children’s Residence”. In 2012 facility based services to children were ended and the home was transitioned to adult services.


Vocational training and day activities were explored for New Hope graduates and other adults challenged with a developmental disability. With the use of a parent’s garage, the idea became reality. Industrial arts and handicrafts were taught by volunteers and family members. With their new skills and experiences, it became obvious a larger facility and staffing would be required to accommodate the growing enrollment and production accomplished by the program. A new home was sought for the program, and was found in St. Jean’s Transport building as a shared facility with the school buses. The larger facility brought on larger ideas. The program accepted donated household items and clothing for re-sale, began making quilts, woven rugs and place-mats from clothing. Making wood products, also was part of the program.

The demand for training activities was steadily increasing. Again, the search went on for a better facility, but this time the agency and families were committed to making it a permanent location.


Research was put into purchasing land and the agency having their own Vocational Workshop built. This was made possible through a matching grant. Committed staff, families and volunteers used very innovative fund raising ideas. i.e.: Ticket raffles, purchase a brick etc. With the timeline swiftly approaching and matched funds not secured, a financial assistance plea went out to community members. Ten people came forward and signed personal loan guarantees to cover the shortfall. Another financial break came by means of the property being sold at a significantly lower price.

The building was constructed in the industrial section of St. Paul and formally named, “Habitat Enterprises Unlimited”. The programs included: laundry, woodworking, housekeeping, grounds keeping, wedding flower construction, various crafts and the resale of donated clothing and household items.


The resale of clothing and household items component of the program was not doing well in the new location (upstairs at Habitat). It was decided that this component of the program should be separate and in a location convenient to customers. A store front on Main Street, in the downtown section of St. Paul was rented and the facility was named the “Next to New Store”.


An adult residence was built, in December. “Residence II”, provided a semi-independent opportunity for 6 adults in a staffed facility. Individuals were taught home living skills necessary for independent living. This residence was a transitional step to more independent community living.

*A van was purchased and the operation of the “Action Bus” commenced, providing transportation services to individuals requiring special/modified transportation.

*Accessible transportation for persons with a disability and seniors in the community was maintained by the agency, until the Town of St. Paul took it over in 2008.


The “Recreation Program” was established to provide support, coaching and planning for both children and adults challenged with a developmental disability. The Recreation Coordinator plans for a host of community recreation options.

“Next to New Store” was formally established and funded as an individual program. This program helped individuals enhance their social skills while working with customers in the store. Developing job related skills in the store was a stepping stone to competitive employment. Participants of this program also worked on projects such as; quilts, woven rugs, pot holders and some knitting.

An “Independent Living Skills Program” was established to provide support services to persons with disabilities, living independently or semi-independently in the community. The supports offered a variety of levels of assistance to further facilitate home living, social and community awareness.


“Residence 3” was built in May. This adult residence was designed to provide long term support to 6 individuals with multiple Disabilities (developmental & physical). With the home being wheelchair accessible it provides individuals with the support they require to live in their community as independently as possible. This residence has become focused on the needs of an aging population.


An “Apartment Living Program” was established to provide a link between supported residential services and independent living. The individuals maintain their own apartments with the support of the Program worker, in 1995 the Apartment Living and Independent Living Programs were combined.


In May a mental health residential facility and support services was established. “White Oaks Mental Health Residential Program” was designed to accommodate 6 people with mental illness and support them in their transition back into community living.


In September the “Developmental Activity Center” was established as a Day Program alternative for 7 individuals. This program was designed to provide Developmental & Social Isolation prevention supports.


The “Job Opportunities Program” was established to provide employment training and support, community work experience, job coaching and job placement for adults with disabilities working towards competitive employment. It continues and is now known as Employment Support Services.


A day program for seniors with mental disabilities was established to give them an opportunity to enjoy leisure, arts & crafts and recreation as do other retired seniors of the community. The program was discontinued and revived several times over the years due to contract funding difficulties. Effective 1991 the Day Supports Services Program has stabilized.

Land was purchased and the new main office was built on 51st Avenue in Downtown St. Paul.


Residence #5 was purchased by the agency to provide a permanent home for 3 adults accessing long term residential support services.  The individuals share this home as a rental unit. In 2007 it was licensed as a 4 person residence.


Habitat Enterprises, “makes a 10 year goal” to move people with developmental disabilities into competitive paid employment, and away from incentive pay.

Our agency name changed from “The St. Paul and District Association for the Handicapped” to “The St. Paul Abilities Network”.


The Agency purchased a large commercial building to be the new facility for Vocational training and revenue based programs. The new facility also sub-leases space to non-associated businesses and their employees.


Residence #7 was purchased by the agency for 3 adults requesting long term residential support services.

The Agency participated in a community partnership project with 4 other service providers in the community. Funding through the Commission for Services to Children enabled the agency to expand and deliver Family Support Services.

The Agency was successful in obtaining funding through the Lakeland Regional Health Authority to deliver Early Intervention Services to young children with disabilities. These programs ran for 6 years until funders prioritized Diversion instead of Early Intervention.


The Agency purchased 2 homes, Residence #6 and Residence #8. These homes offer a 24 hour support model, to meet the needs of the individuals. Both homes support people who live with complex behavioral challenges; and Res #6 was SPAN’s first innovative program for peoples with Autism.

A Human Resources Department was approved by the Board and the Training Facility at the Main Office started being utilized by   in-house and out of agency training/workshops.


Another home was purchased this year (residence #9). This home was to deliver services to adolescents that live with F.A.S./F.A.E.

The Resource/Toy Lending Library, at the Main Office, was opened to all stakeholders.


The Residence #9 program was turned into an Individual Supports Program. It remains a fully staffed residence for 3 individuals, with a separate apartment for people ready to transition to more independence.

The “Soft room” or “snoozelen room” was developed at the Main Office and opened its doors to all persons with disabilities, and offered to seniors with dementia.

Extendicare saw the impact of sensory therapy on their residents so much that they developed their own ‘room’.

The Community Involvement Program, supporting new guardians for the Public Guardian was launched.


St. Paul Abilities Network was awarded a 3 year Accreditation Status by the Commission of Alberta Association of Rehabilitation Centers.

The community involvement program was launched, supporting families with guardianship issues.

Distinctive Arts and Crafts won the contract to provide a cafeteria at the Regional High School. This is when DAC Catering was born.


St. Paul Abilities Network opened 3 new residences, Residence #10 in January, Residence #11 in February and Residence #12 in September. ABIN was launched.


St. Paul Abilities Network opened Residence #13 in June. In addition an Industrial Dry Cleaner was added, a Sales and Marketing Manager was hired and a full time Psychologist came on staff to head up the Diversion and a different Early Intervention Program for children living with crisis.


Moved the seniors program out into a community center with a drop in component to foster integration with other seniors. A building committee was struck to determine the space needs of a growing agency


Day Support Centre renamed Saunders Senior Centre.

Accreditation renewed for 3 years

Land purchased for new building site. Partners were sought to make the new office a joint community project. Work began on the “centennial center’ but was halted after a new facility was given to Portage College and the community partnership.


In-Home, In-Family Program Started.

Children’s Services Accreditation process started and CAC Accreditation was achieved.


Government of Alberta donated the former Pound Makers Adolescent Treatment Centre to the agency. Work began to modify the space for our new office.

The Elk Point Bottle Depot was purchased.

The Board adopted a new fundraiser, they moved forward with the development of their land into a new 24 lot subdivision “Aspen Grove Estates”.


SPAN moved into their new office space and Maurice Manor affordable housing apartment was purchased.

Commercial Laundry and Dry Cleaning expanded. Habitat Commercial Laundry began doing work with oil field camps, heavy trucks were purchased to ship material to camp sites.

  • Residence #7 was closed and a staff house was initiated.
  • Family Respite Program was started.
  • Computer Lab was established.
  • SPAN opened a Support Home in St. Paul.
  • Renovations to our new building created a potential for hosting larger gatherings in our gym.
  • Residence #17 was opened.
  • Residence #5 was licensed for 4 individuals, while Residence #6 became a 3 bed home and Residence #8 and Residence #10 became 5 bed homes.


Diversion Program closed, as the agency focused on supporting families at home.

  • Affordable Housing project “White Pebble” funding received.
  • Action Van moved to Town of St. Paul.


STRIDES Mental Health/ Brain Injury day program opened.

  • Construction began on “White Pebble” Affordable Housing Project.
  • SPAN provided seed funding for the Alberta Disability Workers Association.


Community Access for people in continuing care (CAPCC) was initiated by SPAN to help disabled adults access community. SPAN offered services for 2 years.

  • Level II Accreditation was achieved.
  • A contract with Portage College was initiated, to offer the Disabilities Studies Diploma Program locally.
  • Government cuts to services were significant.


A contract was signed with Alberta Health Services for the development of an assisted living level 3 home; to serve survivors of brain injury.


Aspen House was opened for 6 assisted living clients. Staffing was helped by the promise of an investment in wages by the Alberta Government.


Res #12, a barrier free home designed for our growing population of people in wheelchairs, was opened.

  • Services to children were cut by the Government, as they move toward their 4 pillars strategy.
  • SPAN took a leadership role in developing the St. Paul Splash Park.


SPANs construction program is created, soon to be named Citadel Homes LTD. Construction is underway of 5 new spec homes.


A focus on better communications led to the development of a communication position.

The Board decided to move ahead with the hotel concept as a culmination of 30 years of Social Enterprise. Work on this two year project has begun with the application of a Franchise of Hampton Inn by Hilton; the purchase of land and hiring of an architect.


Opened up our first Complex Needs home and it is running with great success. Citadel Homes has sold 2 of the 5 homes they have built this year. The Board has also made a decision to create a plumbing service company called Citadel Homes Plumbing & Heating for another Social Enterprise project. The official sod turn for Hampton Inn by Hilton happened this spring as well as the construction on this project.



SPAN’s Board closes social enterprises that do not align with SPAN’s Mission.

The re-visioning of the Vision and Mission was achieved. 

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