Sudbury needs transitional housing, despite possible opposition, Kirwan says

Sudbury Ward 5 councillor Robert Kirwan expects some community opposition to a proposed transitional housing build, but he maintains the city needs the project.

Council approves plan to build transitional housing project near Notre Dame Ave., Lasalle Blvd

The proposed site for a 40-unit transitional housing complex on Lorraine Street, in Greater Sudbury. (Warren Schlote/CBC)

Sudbury Ward 5 councillor Robert Kirwan expects some community opposition to a proposed transitional housing build, but he maintains the city needs the project.

On Aug. 17 council approved a plan to build a transitional housing project with up to 40 units on Lorraine Street, located near Lasalle Blvd. and Notre Dame Avenue.

"The city intends to develop transitional housing to support people who are in uncertain housing situations, experiencing or at risk of homelessness, or living in temporary shelters because of the pandemic," said Sacha Novack, communications and engagement advisor with the City of Greater Sudbury.

The project would use $7.4 million in earmarked funds from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Rapid Housing Initiative.

Kirwan said many people don't understand the role transitional housing plays in the community. "I think a transitional housing complex is for people who really want to turn their life around, for people who want to improve," he said. "They're not people who are looking to continue with drugs and continue with addictions. They want to get their mental health in order."

Kirwan added that while he expects at least one petition opposing the project, Sudbury needs transitional housing to support individuals who are not ready to live independently. 

The city said the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation announced the funding on June 30, and the deadline to submit a plan was Aug. 30. "This two-month window left just enough time to conduct a site analysis, develop preliminary concepts and prepare a report in order to seek direction from Council on a preferred site," Novack said.

Sudbury Ward 5 councillor Robert Kirwan expects some community opposition to a proposed transitional housing build. (Submitted by The City of Greater Sudbury)

Council unanimously approved the site, but there will be future engagement sessions with the public to discuss the building design and engage residents in a conversation about the project. Kirwan said council had to approve the site in August to receive the grant. And while staff identified Lorraine Street as the best location for the project, the site could be subject to change.

Marc Sesbreno owns a home near the proposed site, and said he is not necessarily against the project, but would like to hear more details from the city.

"I don't want to be one of those people who say, 'not in my backyard,'" he said. "I would like to know more information about security and everything else, and what type of activities that might happen."

Marc Sesbreno owns a home near the proposed transitional housing site on Lorraine street and says he would like to hear more details about the project from the city. (Submitted by Marc Sesbreno )

Sesbreno said he is concerned transitional housing could affect crime rates in the neighbourhood and decrease property values. He also suggested transitional housing closer to Sudbury's downtown core would allow easier access to municipal and social services.

A 2008 study conducted by the University of Toronto and The Dream Team, a group of psychiatric survivors, used public data to conclude that supportive, or transitional, housing does not hurt property values or increase crime. Similar studies in Denver and New York have reached the same conclusions.

If the project moves forward, construction on Lorraine Street will take place for up to a year after the official approval is granted by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the city said.

With files from Warren Schlote


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