At their last meeting of 2023, city councillors quietly wrapped up nearly two years of closed-door talks with Extendicare, voting to approve paying $3.8 million to purchase the long-term care provider’s building and property at Bath and Queen Mary roads.
And once the building changes hands, the city plans to use the ready-made space as supportive and transitional housing for up to 100 people.
“It’s probably going to be a bit of a first of its kind,” Kingston CAO Lanie Hurdle acknowledged in an exclusive interview with Global News.
“I’m not aware of other facilities — especially with the health care aspect — that we can bring to services within this facility, because it was built for a health care purpose.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and how we can help people who are most in need.”
Although the city won’t formally take possession of the building until the summer, when Extendicare moves into its new building in the city’s west end, Hurdle says work is already underway with community partners to plan the space as a new hub for vulnerable residents.
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“There is ample space to be able to really create different types of housing in terms of transitional, supportive — even from a programming perspective — we can also make sure that there are supportive programming aspects on site,” she said.
“Of course, it’s a great property, it’s a great location.”
Possible replacement for sleeping cabins
Hurdle says the building is already zoned for health care, with dozens of individual rooms and common spaces already built. The plan for now is to leave it the way it is while looking at the possibility of bringing in health care programming as well.
She said anywhere between 50 and 100 people could quickly be moved into the space, including current residents of the sleeping cabins, a project that council decided to phase out this spring.
“It’s definitely an option we’re looking at. It could accommodate people in (the) sleeping cabins,” Hurdle said.
“It’s very similar in nature with (their) own space and common space with kitchen and living space.”
Hurdle said it was Extendicare that first raised the possibility of selling the building to the city a couple of years ago, as the privately-run long-term care provider began planning the construction of their new space.
The transfer of ownership is expected to happen in July or August, when Extendicare moves into its new building at 1306 Demers Avenue.
Extendicare says its $51-million new building has been under construction since 2021 and will have room for 192 seniors.
“The current building has been a beloved home to our residents and their families for 50 years,” the company said in a statement.
“After our residents are comfortably settled in their new home, we are pleased that the existing property will continue to serve the people of Kingston for years to come.”
The $3.8 million ultimately agreed on for the sale of the Extendicare building and and 3.5 acres of property surrounding it came out of the city’s $10 million affordable housing capital budget, which councillors passed in 2023.
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