Ontario Putting the Needs of Communities First
Province Using Surplus Property to Support Strong and Vibrant Communities
The province is prioritizing the needs of Ontarians and focusing on community interests when it comes to decisions about the future uses of closed, surplus or unused publicly owned properties.
Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure, was joined by Nathalie Des Rosiers, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier and Karen Pitre, Premier's Special Advisor on Community Hubs, in Ottawa today to announce a new comprehensive Social Purpose Real Estate Strategy that requires the needs of local communities to be considered when it comes to the disposition, acquisition and use of public properties and infrastructure planning.
The province is supporting the development of community hubs through the following:
- The Community Hubs Resource Network provides resources and tools relevant to those planning for or working in a community hub.
- A new application-based Facilitation Program that will advance community capacity building, help convene and bring local players together, and deliver services that support the development and operation of sustainable community hubs.
- An expanded Surplus Property Transition Initiative, which allows for adequate time for local champions to develop hub proposals for surplus public properties by providing funding to cover holding costs while business plans to acquire the surplus property are developed.
- A new second stage of the Surplus Property Transition Initiative that will also allow community organizations to apply for funding to assist with acquisition or long-term lease of surplus provincial, school board or hospital properties.
Repurposing public properties provides many benefits for communities, including:
- More long-term care homes and seniors' housing for the aging population
- Affordable housing that will give more people in Ontario a place to call home
- Recreational and support programs to maintain the health and wellbeing of all family members
- Youth programming and child care services to take the pressure off working parents
- Trade and innovation centres to address education training and skilled trades barriers.
Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- As part of the Social Purpose Real Estate (SPRE) Strategy, an intergovernmental committee will be established to make recommendations on the future use of public properties, ensuring decisions are looked at through a community lens.
- The Ontario government’s Realty Directive, which is now available online, has been updated to now include consideration for community needs and social purposes in decision making on provincially-owned property.
- Four successful Surplus Property Transition Initiative projects were recently announced in Hamilton, Ottawa, Owen Sound and Thunder Bay. These projects will greatly benefit their communities, strengthening and bringing together local services and providing opportunities for growth.
- Launched almost one year ago, CommunityHubsOntario.ca provides a suite of resources including a map of current surplus public properties and a map of more than 185 community hubs.
“Making community and social needs more important when we’re looking at repurposing public properties will help families access the services they need close to home. From people just starting out in life to seniors through their later years, Ontario’s new approach to decision making for property disposition will help put local needs first.”
“I’m thrilled at the progress we’re making. This new strategy demonstrates our commitment to being more forward thinking and innovative when making decisions about the future of public properties. Communities across the province rely on public space to deliver important and critical services to local residents. The Social Purpose Real Estate Strategy and many of our new initiatives are another step in the right direction to strengthening the community hubs movement in Ontario.”