Durham Region has made a couple of concessions regarding a potential supportive housing complex in Beaverton following concerns from township council and residents.
In an update to the health and social services committee last week, staff committed to a third-party suitability study of the 50-unit complex proposed for 133 Main Street – effectively between Lakeview Manor and Gillespie Gardens – but will not “hold and pause” the project as Brock Township council has demanded.
“The project cannot be paused and will continue while OrgCode (Consulting) conducts their review,” said Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou, the Region’s commissioner of social services.
She also announced that North Durham residents will receive priority at the facility, though it remains open to residents from the southern municipalities as well.
“No one will be forced into supportive housing and no one will be forced to stay,” Danos-Papaconstantinou said.
The committee was told that the Beaverton site was chosen following a review of 50 sites in Durham as it was the only one that could support an expedited facility.
The Province has approved funding for the project, with occupancy slated for September of 2021.
“The Beaverton development is not just housing,” Danos-Papaconstantinou said, noting that residents will have access to a range of wraparound programs.
The Region recently launched a SURVEY for residents to provide input on the potential services that will be offered at the facility – which could include medical care, mental health counselling, financial assistance, tenant support and programs for seniors.
A virtual PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSION is scheduled for Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Oshawa Regional Councillor Elizabeth Roy said the project will be a “wonderful addition” to the community once it opens.
“I think this is a phenomenal project for North Durham,” added Scugog Regional Councillor Wilma Wotten.
Not surprisingly, some members of Brock Township council didn’t necessarily agree with that assessment.
“Those are great comments but they are not housing professionals. We need research and studies to show this location as an optimal location for this type of housing. Personal opinions need to be kept aside and rely solely on facts and research and studies,” said Ward 1 Councillor Mike Jubb.
“I don’t think they understand our community and the impacts that this size of a project could have on our tiny population. The added services – which have yet to be confirmed – will certainly be a possible benefit. But at what cost?” added Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble.
“The likely increase in crime rates, drug use on our streets and disruption to our residents and business owners is not worth it. I fully support the supportive housing model but this location at this size is simply not setting anyone up for success.”
The project was one of two approved by regional council in late July.
Citing a lack of information and public consultation, members of township council passed a resolution formally opposing the proposal on Aug. 20 calling for the Region to present studies demonstrating the site was the optimal location for such a facility.
A community petition was circulated soon after and has garnered roughly 2,000 signatures from concerned residents, followed by the launch of a WEBSITE.
A second motion passed by township council in late September authorized staff to examine all available options – including legal action – to “pause and hold” the project until the terms of the previous motion are met, as well as a calling for a third-party consultant to conduct research.
Members met with the Township solicitor on Monday (Oct. 19) during an in-camera session though details have not been released.