THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Aboriginal Housing Service says that the Junot Avenue transitional housing project is one being considered to benefit from the funding that Ontario announced Thursday, but they need to consider every project across the province to determine where the needs are the greatest for the urban Indigenous community.
“Locally here in Thunder Bay we do know that there is a large urban Indigenous population and there’s certain parts across the province that where there is a large urban indigenous population and we have to look at investments across Ontario and locally here in Thunder Bay to support our community collectively,” said Cora McGuire-Cyrette, OAHS chair.
“And so, we know that announcements like today are a positive step in the right direction. There’s an opportunity here for us as a community to even look at how we push forward and how do we support that need. How do we fill that gap together? Because funding is only one step towards trying to fill a massive gap here. And so, we really have to look critically here at how we fill the remaining gap as a community.”
The site of the proposed housing project remains a vacant lot on Junot Avenue, and there is no date for the start of construction OAHS wants to build a facility to accommodate 58 young people who are struggling with addiction. It would also provide education and employment services. According to the Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services Corporation, the issue was a lack of operational funding.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Stephen Clark says that the funding will be up to the province's partners in Indigenous housing to determine where the funds should go.
“We’ve provided the dollars to our two partners for the operating funds that we announced today. So it’s going to be up to our partners to decide how to allocate that within their own organizations,” said Clark.
The $10 million in new annual funding through their Roadmap to Wellness announced by the province would certainly help get the project off the ground but OAHS says that they need to distribute the funding strategically based on recommendations from an external committee that will score each project based on communities in need and the long-term strategic goals of the organization.
“The project locally is one of the projects that are currently being considered, the decision and funding announcement has come up here just recently. And so, as an organization, what we do is we look strategically across the province of Ontario identifying where all the gaps and needs are, where we know the needs are greater than the announcement here today,” said McGuire-Cyrette.
“So, what we do as an organization is look at where we can make the greatest impact, and where the needs are, the critical needs. So as an organization our team will be instructed to come up with some plans strategically and to come up with options to get the funding to go as far as it possibly can.”