Gore Bay may ask Aboriginal Housing about repurchase of downtown units for seniors’ use

At least one committee member is hoping the Town of Gore Bay will consider repurchasing the Woods Lane Apartments from Aboriginal Ontario Housing Services.

GORE BAY—Gore Bay general government committee member Ron Lane implored the town to investigate the possibility of purchasing the Woods Lane apartment building, and return it to its original purpose, senior housing.

“I have two issues with the Woods Lane apartments, one being personal and the other a town issue,” stated Mr. Lane, who chaired the meeting. “The building has been in place since the mid-1960s and was named after two former mayors (Marv Woods and John Lane) of the town. The (building name) sign is unreadable.”

“From a personal point of view I’m not satisfied with the way the apartment building is being managed,” said Mr. Lane. “The original intent of the building was for seniors, but when the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board took it over, it was changed to social housing. The Millsite apartment has a list of 39 people aged 65 and over on a waiting list to get an apartment in the building. I think the town should be looking into reacquiring the building and turning it into seniors’ housing.”

“There would be costs involved, but it would mean there would be 12 more apartments available for seniors,” said Mr. Lane. “This is a project I think the town should consider, although I don’t know if AOHS (Aboriginal Ontario Housing Services) would sell it. I think the town’s housing problem doesn’t just include availability of long-term rentals but seniors’ housing.”

Mr. Lane said AOHS is looking for the town’s support on another housing project in town. “If they want the town to cooperate on that project, they should work with us on this one. This issue should be on council’s agenda for investigation.” Although he did not have all details, he said when the building was first constructed and began operating, it was owned by the town. For the Bayside apartments, he pointed out the town and Manitoulin-District Services Board share in the operating responsibilities. “I would be fine having the same set up for the Woods Lane building as well, as long as it is for senior housing.”

“I throw this all out for discussion by council, and I would like a full discussion on this issue at our next  (general government committee) meeting,” continued Mr. Lane. “It could be that the Ministry of Health was responsible for the building, but when DSB took over the building, that it was changed to social housing. The DSB took all senior housing and turned it into social housing.”

Mr. Lane continued, “from a personal view, I am not satisfied with the way the apartment building is being operated. And I would like to see the sign on the building removed, I don’t want my family name on it.”

Councillor Jack Clark pointed out, “it is probably not our sign to remove.”

Mr. Lane said the building has an address number on it so the sign is not necessary. He pointed out one of his concerns is that the grass on the building property is not cut regularly and there is a lot of police activity at the building, and every time there is a police incident, it is costing the town more money in policing costs.”

“I have no problem in the town doing an investigation as to possibly purchasing the building,” said Councillor Clark.

Mr. Lane said it would be nice to find the original agreement for the apartment building, noting that when the building was up for sale, it was looked at by private buyers.

“And it was stipulated that it had to stay in affordable housing,” said Mayor Dan Osborne. “We can ask the present building owners if they are interested in selling the building to the town.”

“The key thing is getting the building back to the use it was originally designed for (senior housing). It would fill a need for senior housing and we would know it is being maintained,” said Mr. Lane.

Mr. Lane said, “my ultimate goal is to return the building to senior housing, like the town (Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands) is doing, by recognizing the need to accommodate seniors now and in the future.”