Town looking to create crisis care beds at fire hall

February 24, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville Council is now looking to create a crisis care bed facility instead of a men’s homeless shelter.

Council unanimously passed a motion to appropriate and reserve the fire hall at 10 Dawson Road for the creation of a crisis care facility ran by Services and Housing in the Province (SHIP), during a meeting last Monday (Feb. 14).

A new fire hall is being constructed for the spring or early summer of 2023 at the corner of Centennial Road and Commerce Road, freeing up the former fire hall on Dawson Road.

Mayor Sandy Brown said Dufferin County’s director of community services Anna McGregor enlightened the Town’s Men’s Homelessness Committee to the concept of a crisis care bed facility, and how it is needed more than a men’s shelter for the region.

“As has been explained [to us], the depth of programming, diversion programming for those who suffer mental health and drug or alcohol addiction is the difference between a men’s shelter and this crisis care bed facility,” he explained.

However, the move to convert the fire hall to a crisis care bed facility is conditional, depending on the securing of operational support/funding from Ontario Health, securing zoning approval from the Town, recovering a reasonable value for the sale or lease of the fire hall property with the operator (SHIP), and provided that approvals can be secured by all stakeholders, including Credit Valley Conservation (CVC).

“I think this is one of the best initiatives we can ever put forward and fingers crossed that we can get that [funding] commitment from Ontario Health, and hopefully have our MPP Sylvia Jones go to bat for us,” said Coun. Sherwood, who brought forward the crisis care bed facility motion with fellow Men’s Homelessness Committee members Mayor Sandy Brown and Coun. Joe Andrews.

The motion for the crisis care bed facility has support from Dufferin County Council Health and Human Services, Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson, and Dufferin County director of community services Anna McGregor, who recommended a crisis care bed facility rather than a men’s shelter to address homelessness in the region.

With the motion for the crisis care bed facility approved, SHIP is now preparing an application for Ontario Health to secure funding. 

The cost of each bed is $100,000 per year, and the current plan is for eight beds, totalling $800,000 annually.

Mayor Brown said SHIP shared with him that some of the start-up construction costs to convert the fire hall into a crisis care facility could be covered by Ontario Health.

“We also have the idea that a capital fundraising campaign could be successful in our town, going to our service clubs and maybe having a golf tournament or a gala dinner, or something like that, to help fundraise, if necessary,” he said.

If the crisis care bed facility moves forward it would serve all of Dufferin County and part of Caledon.

Coun. Lisa Post noted her support for the facility, prior to the 7-0 vote on the motion.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to support this motion. I want to give credit to everybody who’s taken part in having this really important discussion,” she said. “I know that solving these issues is not easy. It’s an extremely complex, very complex issue. And I’m so glad to see the partnerships that have happened and the thought that’s been put into making sure that this is going to be a great service that is tangible, that can be sustained… to make sure that our community is serviced appropriately going forward.”

Coun. Todd Taylor, who expressed support for the project, asked about its feasibility, considering the CVC’s issues with the property in the past, as well as how the lease or sale of the fire hall would work.

Mayor Brown said in response that SHIP could lease the property as they do with their properties in Brampton and Mississauga.

“That is likely what would happen. The Town would maintain ownership and come up with a fair market lease rate for the space that they would be renting from us,” he explained.

With respect to the CVC, they had issues with the fire hall being expanded on the property due to potential flooding issues.

However, Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh, who worked at the Orangeville Fire Department for 29 years, said emergency services has different requirements with respect to flood lines.

There will be further discussion with the CVC but it appears to be okay to move forward.

Orangeville Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28.

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