Giant Steps School raising funds to build $50-million centre for students with autism

·2 min read
The Giant Steps Centre could be up and running by January 2023. The group is looking to secure funding from the Quebec government. (Provencher_Roy architectural firm - image credit)
The Giant Steps Centre could be up and running by January 2023. The group is looking to secure funding from the Quebec government. (Provencher_Roy architectural firm - image credit)

Montreal's Giant Steps School wants to build a 50$-million centre for children and adults with autism, and it's launching a fundraising campaign to help make it happen.

The 66,000-square-foot building would be built on the site of Technopôle Angus in the neighbourhood of Rosemont, and include space for a community centre, adult education and employment training and research, while also serving as an expansion to its school in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

"What we're hoping to do is really transform the way that we provide autism services here in Quebec, and establish a model that can be replicated elsewhere," said Thomas Henderson, director of Giant Steps.

"We're really going to be looking at developing life span services that are not just education-based but employment, leisure as well community activities."

Thomas Henderson, director of Giant Steps School, wants the group's new centre to set a global standard for the delivery of services to people with autism.
Thomas Henderson, director of Giant Steps School, wants the group's new centre to set a global standard for the delivery of services to people with autism.(Chloe Ranaldi/CBC)

The school says it's generated plenty of momentum for the project, having already secured more than $15 million from donors and parents.

The goal for the fundraising campaign is $24 million. Giant Steps is hoping the provincial government will provide the rest of the funding — about half of the total cost.

Tracy Pennimpede, the director of the Giant Steps Foundation, and has a son who is on the autism spectrum.

"I know how this feels, when it's cold in the winter and you have nowhere to go," she said. "To say, 'let's go hang out at the Giant Steps Centre' would be super fun."

Giant Steps is hoping a financial commitment from the province will be included in the next budget, set to tabled on March 25.

If all the funding is secured, the centre could be up and running as early as January 2023.