North Frontenac Council decided that instead of using their share of a $1.4 million Frontenac County housing fund as seed money for a new seniors housing project, they would seek permission to redirect the money in order to fund an aging at home strategy for North Frontenac Senior’s.
In speaking to the proposal at a meeting of Frontenac Council on May 16, North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins referred to a recent survey of North Frontenac senior’s. “90% want to stay at home,” Higgins said, very few wanted the bricks and mortar at this time.We want to use funds for helping seniors live at home rather than a bricks and mortar solution.”
The townships three- point plan for the funds includes developing supports for seniors the help them maintain independence, pursue funding opportunities with the City of Kingston to help with home repairs and other housing costs in existing homes, and seek longer term solutions add new, affordable housing options in the township.
Frontenac Islands has used their $350,000 share of the funds to help finance a 5-unit senior’s housing project on the edge of Marysville. South Frontenac is still trying to determine a final location for a larger project, and Central Frontenac is in the early stages of developing a project.
Members of Frontenac County Council spoke out against re-allocating the North Frontenac funds.
“The original intention of the funds was to keep senior’s in our community when they can no longer live in their own homes,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Dennis Doyle.
“There are two reason I would not support this,” said South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal, “The first is that the money is meant to be seed money for further township investment Frontenac Islands committed $700,000 of their own money towards their project, South Frontenac will be putting in over a million. Second, you ask anyone where they want to live and they will say ‘I want to stay in my own home’ but when the option is available to stay in the community instead of leaving when people can’t manage a home anymore, they have a different answer.”
Central Frontenac Mayor Frances Smith said that the senior’s supports that North Frontenac is “talking about already exist. That money should be for bricks and mortar not for these services.”
“Our main concern with following the route everyone else is taking is that we will end up building a housing complex that is available only to wealthier seniors, which is not what we want,” countered North Frontenac Councilor John Inglis.
Among County Council members not representing North Frontenac, Frontenac Islands Councilor Natalie Nossal was the only one showed much sympathy for North Frontenac’s position.
“We have to look, in this case, at the issue through a North Frontenac lens. We shouldn’t exclude them from this fund of money,” she said.
Ron Higgins said that a building project in North Frontenac is not on right now.
“We just finished doing our municipal office. We don’t have money for any more bricks and mortar right now,” he said
Higgins also indicated that there was some urgency to the request “we only have until the end of 2018 to spend the money.”
County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Pender said that deadline is not that firm,
“That was the intention when the money was set aside, for it to be used by the end of this term of council, but the money doesn’t disappear at the end of 2018,” Pender said,
In the end, council voted not to accept the request from North Frontenac Council. The money, it seems, will remain in a reserve fund for the foreseeable future.