Demolition has already started at 555 Fuller Avenue, Pathways Abilities Society’s original location. (Pathways Abilities Society)

Demolition has already started at 555 Fuller Avenue, Pathways Abilities Society’s original location. (Pathways Abilities Society)

Pathways Abilities Society’s historic location comes down

The society said they are shedding their old cocoon

After nearly 70 years, 555 Fuller Avenue is coming down.

Demolition already started on the building, which formerly housed Pathways Abilities Society. The society moved out of the building in 2016, bringing their support services to 123 Franklyn Road in Rutland.

The location has helped Pathways provide supports for many adult individuals with diverse abilities throughout the years.

“It’s very sad and yet we’re very happy as well to see the building torn down,” Pathways executive director Charisse Daley said.

“The Fuller Avenue building has been such a foundational part of our society and has provided so many services over the years for individuals in our community with diverse abilities, it’s hard to see it disappear but it’s all part of ours and the community’s growth.”

555 Fuller Avenue was first called Sunnyvale Centre in 1953, which a handful of Kelowna parents, teachers and doctors decided to open. The group recognized that the educational needs of children with diverse abilities weren’t being met by mainstream education, so they wanted Sunnyvale to fill that gap.

During its first year, it provided support services to 13 students and only grew from there.

Most recently, before the demolition, the building was home to Pathways’ social venture called BikeWays, which employed adults with diverse abilities to refurbish and sell donated, gently used bikes with the proceeds going back to Pathways.

Pathways employment manager Bonnie Fraser said the society simply outgrew the location.

“With the teardown of Fuller on the horizon, the timing worked out right for us to move to the new building on St. Paul. It’s allowed us to continue to grow and continue to build our BikeWays venture,” she said.

Daley said she and others at Pathways have mixed emotions seeing their original home demolished.

“It does feel like a little we’re letting go of some of our history, but at the same time, we’ve evolved so much over the years to adapt to the changing needs of our community,” she said.

“This demolition is almost like we’re shedding an old cocoon. While it’s sad in one way, it’s also a source of pride for us that this marks a maturation milestone for our society.”

Demolition and cleanup are expected to be finished soon.

For more information on Pathways, visit their website.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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