Community organizations offer plenty of services for all

For many people, accessing basic services and programs can be out of reach financially. Finding an extracurricular program for kids, tools for that renovation project, or affordable mental health care can feel like a lost cause.

“It’s so hard to find help when I need it, especially if I don’t have any extra money,” says Cheree, who did not give her last name. Cheree lives in the Alberta Avenue community and has struggled with some challenges in the past. She now has a steady job and housing, but still has a hard time paying for some of the basics.

Cheree isn’t alone in finding it difficult to afford simple things many take for granted. From everyday basics such as food to programs for children and youth, finding the money for all these things can be tough. However, affordable resources can easily be accessed in and around our communities. 

For example, NAIT’s baking students sell what they make in class at the Common Market cafeteria for discounted prices. Students practice their future craft and people can access excellent food that may be financially out of reach otherwise. The Common Market cafeteria can be found on campus in the “O” building, right next to the meat store, and is available from mid-September to mid-December and mid-January to mid-April. 

The public can access teeth cleaning for youth or dentures. | Supplied

NAIT also houses a denture and dental clinic. Teeth cleaning for youth aged seven to 17 costs $20 and is open from January to March. The clinic also offers custom dentures for as low as $950 for complete upper and lower dentures to $650 for partial dentures plus expenses. You can book an appointment for a 30 minute screening. It’s important to know these services require a significant time commitment.

Accessing health care can be one of the largest stresses and financial strains. Boyle McCauley Health Centre offers a plethora of services for those who face barriers accessing the mainstream health care system. These services include optometry, a woman’s health clinic, psychology and psychiatric care, a dental clinic, and even a foot care clinic beyond the usual health care needs. They provide “the highest standard of care that is evidence informed and client focused.”

“Libraries are one of the last truly public spaces. You don’t need to buy a coffee or anything to sit,” says Jennifer Schell, community librarian for the Sprucewood branch. 

The Sprucewood location offers early literacy programs, parenting workshops, science programming, a Practice English program, and help with taxes during tax time. There is even an Xbox in the program room for use. All Edmonton Public Libraries offer free Internet, scanning and faxing, and printing services for 10 cents a page.

Doing your own home repairs or renovations is an excellent way to save money. The Edmonton Tool Library has an impressive inventory of tools, plus advice to get you started. An annual $50 membership provides access to hand, power, and garden tools and is similar to a conventional library.

Bike Edmonton operates a workshop and provides the tools and space needed to fix and maintain your bike. Memberships cost $20 for a year, but non-members can use the space as well for a somewhat higher hourly fee than members.Bike Edmonton sells refurbished and used bikes as well. The Spoke program, a six-to-eight week course for youth ages 12 to 17 and run by Bike Edmonton volunteers, teaches students how to maintain and repair their bikes. Participants leave with their very own bike at the end. Participants must be nominated for the program.

The Bissell Centre Thrift Shop has everything needed for your home. Items range from $2 for baby clothes to $50 for dressers or bed frames. The added bonus is that the shop helps support the Bissell Centre, which offers a myriad of programs and supports for those in need.

Local community leagues offer many services as well. Membership costs vary with each league but on average run $10 for an individual and $20 for a family. Offerings are unique to each league but may include community garden plots, meditation classes, soccer registration, access to skating rinks, and singing classes. Check your local community league to see what is available. 

Affordable resources are vitally important to maintaining healthy, vibrant communities. 


Common Market 

“O” building, NAIT campus

11762 106 St  

NAIT Dental Clinic

Room F204, 11762 106 St


Boyle McCauley Health Centre


Sprucewood Library

11155 95 St


Tool Library

7308 112 Ave

Bike Edmonton North 

9305 111 Ave


Featured Image: Baking students sell what they make during class at NAIT’s Common Market cafeteria. | Supplied