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Edmonton community hall rejects church holding Easter dinner for homeless


EDMONTON - An Edmonton church official says it's no longer being allowed to hold dinners for the homeless and poor at a community centre due to the kind of people they attract.
BJ Brahmacharie, director of community events with the Victory Christian Center, said he found out that the church is no longer welcome at the Alberta Avenue community hall when he tried to book an Easter dinner earlier this month.
"Generally speaking, they're not interested in having us rent the place because of the type of people we attract," Brahmacharie said.
Brahmacharie said Victory Christian has used the community league's hall numerous times in the past.
"I think they're not being realistic. We're not looking to get any special treatment," he said. "We just want to help some people."
The church also regularly distributes free clothes, food hampers and gifts.
It also puts on an annual Christmas banquet at the Shaw Conference Centre, which is the largest free Christmas meal in the city, feeding around 4,000 people.
Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring said he's appalled to hear that the church is no longer welcome to hold dinners at the hall.
"I would seriously question if that was management's decision because I don't think this (sentiment) is shared by the community at large," said Goldring.
"This is a community hall. It's for the community, to be shared by the community and that means all of the community."
Goldring said the church is vital for the people in his riding.
"They always help people out," he said. "This organization has been a tremendous participant in the community and they've helped thousands of people."
Goldring said he has not talked to the community league's board of directors and he doesn't plan to because it's an issue that can be fixed without the intervention of a politician.
Officials with the Alberta Avenue community centre could not be reached for comment.
Brahmacharie said if the church has to move its events to another location, it will be more difficult for its regular guests because the Alberta Avenue hall is in the city's core, where many homeless people live.

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