Sudbury-based firm putting together proposal that could see Old School turned into seniors’ housing units

Central Manitoulin Old School.

SUDBURY -An official with Canadian Builder, a Sudbury-based property developer, is looking at putting together a purchase proposal to Central Manitoulin that if accepted by council, could potentially see the Mindemoya Old School building developed into apartment units for seniors. 

“We know someone who knows about the Friends of the Mindemoya Old School (FOMOS) committee, who told my dad and I that they are looking at ways of keeping the building open and being used. George Wade of Espanola is a friend of mine and my dad John, and he knows a lot of people on Manitoulin Island. We have many friends on the Island,” said Nick Cerilli, who operates Canadian Builder in Sudbury along with his father John. “He talked to Alison McAllister (treasurer of FOMOS) and he connected us with her. George gave us some details on the project that the building is currently vacant and the Friends of group is looking for ideas and actions to keep the building open.” 

“We arranged for a Zoom meeting of my dad and I with the committee,” said Mr. Cerilli. He told the Recorder, “we see the need for some type of senior type of residence in Mindemoya—the demand is high,” he said, acknowledging that there is already senior housing in Mindemoya, but that there is a demand for more. “My dad and I met the group and they gave us an update on their efforts to try and keep this historic building from being demolished.” He noted that FOMOS provided all reports to Mr. Cerilli and his father on the condition of the building and what needs to be done to renovate it and the approximate costs.  

“As I mentioned, my dad and I see the need for some type of seniors’ residence,” said Mr. Cerilli. “So, we are putting together a package with information on our proposal for the building.”

“No, we haven’t been able to visit the building itself because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions,” Mr. Cerilli told the Recorder. “If and when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, we would like to visit the building and have a meeting with the committee on-site,” he said, pointing out, “I am familiar with the building; I have been to the Island many times. We look forward to making our proposal and working with the municipality, mayor and council as well as staff and Friends of group.” 

He said while plans haven’t been finalized, the proposal could look at seniors’ apartments for couples, or single people, and could be for seniors that can take care of themselves, but just need a place to live, or for seniors that can still take care of themselves, but may need meals or transportation provided for them. At this point, he said, all options are being considered. 

He pointed out, “we would use both the main floor and the bottom floor for apartment units,” and they would include bedroom(s), a living room area, bath and kitchenette area.” 

Apartments would be rented out. 

“We are a low-key company, everything my dad does is done with passion,” said Mr. Cerilli. “At the end of the day it’s about people, not about the dollars or sales. We like to develop projects that a community likes and appreciates.”

Mr. Cerilli said the Old School building is in a prime location for this type of development, as it is close to amenities such as a grocery store, café, pharmacy, a community centre and a hospital. “It would be a shame to let that building go and have it demolished—it has a long history,” said Mr. Cerilli. He added that “by September we will have everything in place to make a presentation and proposal to the municipal council and the friends of group on our idea and plans.”