Armoury Youth Centre

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Homeless and/or runaway

Topic: Social development

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Armoury Youth Centre (AYC) was created to address the issue of youth homelessness and associated activities such as drug use, violence, theft, vandalism, gang activity and victimization. The AYC operates from 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year serving youth aged 15-21. Youth coming to AYC, who are either homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless, are provided specialized programming, resources and referrals in response to the unique needs of the youth. Programs offered at the AYC are based on five pillars of service: Safety, Education, Health and Wellness, Self-Reliance, and Recreation. AYC aims to be a one-stop shop where youth can get connected to the supports they need to succeed in life. AYC takes a harm reduction approach and works with youth to ensure that they stay safe in the community. The goal of the program staff is to complete an action plan with each youth that meets their specific needs.


The main goals for AYC program are to:

  • Meet the youths' basic needs;
  • Address medical issues;
  • Establish positive interactions between youth and AYC staff;
  • Help youth demonstrate positive behaviours;
  • Help youth be healthier and pro-active in their mental health;
  • Help youth acquire skills to function independently; and
  • Ensure youth transition into safe housing.


Youth coming to AYC are either homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. On average, the AYC serves 111 youth each month.

Core Components

The core components of the AYC are:

  • Providing shelter and meeting the basic needs of youth; and
  • Programming based on the five pillars of service: Safety, Education, Health and Wellness, Self-Reliance, and Recreation.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Finding the appropriate balance between structured programming and recreational activities has been a challenge. It was also discovered that before life skills and training programs can be offered, youth need to feel safe in the space. Staff turnover has also been an on-going challenge within the AYC, with insufficient staff to accompany youth to court or follow up with other agencies serving the youth. Difficulty getting probation and child welfare case workers to meet clients at the center. There is a service gap; no programs for those over age. The community is concerned that the center is increasing the number of undesirables in the area, increased graffiti, etc.
  • Partnerships: Limited information on this topic.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

This project was implemented in Edmonton, Alberta from May 2009 – March 2013. Located in the historic Connaught Armoury of Old Strathcona, the AYC operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the AYC program. The findings from this study have shown the following:

Over three years, $1.18 of social value was created for ever $1.00 through avoiding police investigations, use of youth shelters, high school drop outs, and through an increase in youth employment.

Social value can be generated in various ways. In the case of AYC, the majority of the monetized social value was generated in four areas:

  • Police investigation avoided: The cost of one police investigation amounts to $1,912 per incident.
  • Increase in youth employment income: Annual income of $9,152 resulting from part-time work (20 hours per week at the minimum wage of $9.40).
  • Youth shelter use avoided: Based on a youth using the shelter seven nights per month at $147 per night, the annual cost is $12,361. 
  • Avoiding high school dropout: The annual cost for a youth who has dropped out of high school is $8,544.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Armoury Youth Centre. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: 

For more information on this program, contact:

Youth Emergency Shelter Society of Edmonton
Debra Cautley
Phone: (780) 468-7186

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-20
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: