The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) decided to hire Colliers Project Leaders Inc. to do a feasibility study on converting the current PR Residence facility on Cartier Boulevard to affordable housing. Council approved a recommendation by Sylvie Millette, UCPR social services director, during its June 22 session for a contract with the consultant firm for a detailed feasibility study on future use of the building.
Colliers Project Leaders presented the best proposal of six bidders for the feasibility study contract at a cost of $59,970 plus HST. The UCPR will apply to the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to finance the study under the federal Seed Funding program for affordable housing projects. If CMHC rejects the application, the UCPR will finance the study through its own Public Housing Reserve Fund.
Millette first brought up the idea to council in February about converting the long-term care facility on Cartier Boulevard for affordable housing use. Her department has been considering future uses for the building for several years.
In her brief to council, Millette noted that affordable housing has become « a significant issue » for Prescott-Russell and other regions of Ontario. Provincial statistics indicated 15 per cent of households in Ontario are « in dire need » of affordable housing. » Mental health agencies also note that homelessness and fear of becoming homeless contributes to mental health issues.
The waiting list now for affordable housing in the UCPR is more than 1000 individuals and families. Some residents who need affordable housing but cannot find it struggle to balance their rental costs with the demands for food, health care, transportation, and other costs.
The feasibility study on the old PR Residence will focus on three options for the building and grounds when the tenants have relocated to the new long-term care facility on Spence Street. Option 1 would determine if the building can be renovated for affordable housing and how many people could such a renovation accommodate. Option 2 calls for demolishing the old building and erecting a new custom-built affordable housing facility. Option 3 would be to sell the building and grounds as is.