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Friday, March 2, 2018

Mayor Rallies Behind Building Hope Project

Orillia | by Ian MacLennan  

Orillia Mayor says decision about Building Hope requests was not made done in isolation.

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke says the request from the Building Hope project was more complex in nature of the ask than some others, but he says the decision made by council committee on Monday was not done in isolation.

Council committee voted to forgive a $390,000 loan,  defer development charges and exempt property tax.

Clarke says many members of council did their research ahead of time, reaching out to the hospital and the County of Simcoe.

Meeting two of the three requests freed up $510,000 from the County.

Building Hope will be in three phases, with the middle phase moved to the top of the list because of the provincial Home for Good program.

There is money from the Ontario government and County for 20-units of supportive housing.

That will be followed by a 40-bed emergency shelter, and phase 3 is affordable housing.

Building Hope is an initiative of the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen and Shelter.

Project organizers hope a shovel can be in the ground at 75 Queen Street by  late summer or fall.

Clarke says Building Hope is a wonderful project.

He says there is social return on investment and there is a financial return on investment.

If people caught up in the cycle of homelessness and other issues can get the help they need,  Clarke says on the financial side this means less in terms of using emergency health care,  less acute care at the hospital, less police services and less justice services.

The decision goes to city council for ratification on Monday.

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