DSB creating long-term affordable housing in Little Current

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ESPANOLA – Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB), the agency which oversees social service programs on Manitoulin, has two major projects slated for the Island in the next couple of years. The DSB is applying for new capital funding through Phase 4 of the Social Service Relief Fund that would enable those projects to move ahead without overtaxing the DSB budget.

“The capital funding would also be utilized to create long-term affordable housing in Little Current,” said DSB CAO Fern Dominelli in his quarterly report delivered to DSB last Thursday. “There is a high need for seniors’ housing that is currently being under supported. We are short in meeting our targets as well as being short in adhering to our 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan recommendations.”

“We are currently in the process of undertaking a new seniors’ housing building in Little Current to assist in alleviating the high demand in the area and to lessen the affordable housing deficit on Manitoulin Island,” continued Mr. Dominelli, but there are concerns. “In discussions with the project architect and project manager it has come to our attention that the construction industry has come under increased pressure due to the pandemic which has resulted in significant price escalation for building materials. These escalations have resulted in a significant increase in the cost/sq.ft for the building. This has resulted in a significant cost increase to undertake this project and has strained the DSB’s financial resources in moving forward with the project. With the $1,030,700 of Social Service Relief Fund Phase 4 capital funds, our annual deficit would go from $171,132 to $118,353.”

Mr. Dominelli admitted some dismay that the more than $1 million in extra funding would have such a small influence in reducing the red ink on the DSB bottom line.

A request for tenders for the construction of the new seniors’ housing project will be going out shortly and Mr. Dominelli said that the DSB hoped to have those costs ready to present to the board at its October meeting.

In Mindemoya, Manitoulin-Sudbury DSB is looking to “purchase the other part of the land that we are currently in the process of acquiring for the newly build Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) Thrift Store/Food Bank,” said Mr. Dominelli. “Acquiring this land would allow MFR to increase capacity while adhering to COVID-19 protocols. The estimated cost for this will be $100,000.”