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By Chris Marchand
Local crisis shelter Hoshizaki House will more than double in size as a result of a $3.1 million investment, announced last week by Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services, Dr. Helena Jaczek and Kenora MP Bob Nault.
Jaczek says the aging facility, originally constructed in 1908, has long been on the Ontario government’s radar, though a recent doubling of the federal government’s Social Infrastructure Fund has finally allowed the province to distribute meaningful funding to the facilities most in need throughout the province.
In the case of Dryden’s crisis shelter, some careful planning and good timing went along way towards securing funds for a new build.
“We’ve kind of patched it up throughout the years,” said Jaczek. “The Ministry has been putting quite a bit into keeping it at least safe for the women who live there. But it makes far more sense to start afresh. When the federal government said they had funds, particularly for this sector, we had already subsidized the design aspects of this project, so essentially it was shovel-ready — which is what federal government was looking for.”
Construction will take place at the current site and Hoshizaki House’s much newer ‘second stage’ facility will remain in place. The new 8,000 square-foot building will replace the current 3,000 square building. The new shelter will feature eight bedrooms (up from the current four) and seven washrooms, a large kitchen and dining area, a play area for children, a comfortable living room and a quiet room for private visits.
“We’re really happy the provincial and federal government funded our building,” said Hoshizaki House Executive Director Tana Troniak. “We’ve been out there saying for five or six years that the building needed to be redone, or torn down — it’s in really bad shape.”
Troniak adds the new build will bring all of the Hoshizaki House staff, currently housed in separate buildings, under the same roof. Weather permitting, construction is set to begin winter/spring of 2017.
The shelter services the area from Vermilion Bay to Ignace.
“We get a lot of calls and we only have four bedrooms,” said Troniak. “We like to keep one empty because of the highway. We get a lot of people calling from the bus, so it’s good to have an emergency room — that’s hard when you only have four bedrooms. Some of our families are big and we have some small rooms. Some single women we have to put together because of a shortage of rooms. So, it’ll really increase the capacity to help the women and children we serve.”
Kenora MP Bob Nault offered comments on behalf of the Mininster of Families Children and Social Development as well as the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Yves Duclos.
“Hoshizaki House is vital to our community,” said Kenora MP Bob Nault. “When individuals and their families are fleeing violence and have nowhere else to turn, they do have Hoshizaki House. Dozens of families use this facility every year to escape unsafe situations. Our government believes that all Canadians deserve access to safe housing that meets their needs. When it comes to building an inclusive society where all Canadians have opportunities to succeed, housing does matter.”