The City of Kingston recently completed a significant land purchase with the intent of turning the soon-to-move long term care home into transitional housing.
In a release the city stated that support services offered at the new location haven’t been decided, with some concerns having been raised about the purchase in the last few days.
At the end of 2023, city wrapped up closed-door negotiations with Extendicare to purchase the company’s former home at Bath and Queen Mary for $3.8 million, with Extendicare set to move into a new facility on Kingston’s west end this summer.
Some residents in the area have voiced concern that such a significant deal be made behind closed doors, but City of Kingston CAO Lanie Hurdle says it’s standard procedure for land purchases by the city.
“We have been doing all of our property acquisition and disposition in closed session,” Hurdle said.
“We recently purchased 206 Concession Street, nobody kind of reacted and said the city did things in secret… same process.”
The lack of clarity around the purchase and the intent has led to speculation that it could essentially become the new home of services offered at the Integrated Care Hub.
Meadowbrook-Strathcona councillor Jeff McLaren says the owner of the land which the hub resides on has indicated he won’t renew the lease, and before the city’s release people in his district began to speculate and distrust the direction for the new purchase.
“They have not been clear on what they want to do with it,” McLaren said on Monday.
“They could do a lot of things and a lot of those things that I imagine that they could do would be very detrimental to the communities that are in that area… and so without that certainty, of course they’re going to be against it.”
McLaren said there is some distrust towards AMHS, who will be a partner, through this process and said his constituents want complete clarity on what the intentions are for the building, and ultimately they don’t want something that could bring safety concerns in their neighbourhood.
On Tuesday the city attempted to quell some of those concerns in their release, stating that while no specific services have been concretely decided, the intent is not for this building to be the new home of the ICH.
“Although the property at 309 Queen Mary Road has been secured, specific support services provided to complement transitional housing have not been decided,” a statement from Hurdle reads.
“This property is not intended to be the location for the existing Integrated Care Hub. Rather, this is a unique opportunity to work with community partners to develop and provide both services and housing options on-site for those who need them.”
The statement says there will be public engagement sessions to help develop the operational model.
Hurdle said at this time they also don’t know who will be operating the facility when it changes hands, but there’s a number of community partners they plan to involve including Lionhearts, Homebase Housing and AMHS.
She says the building should support transitional housing under current zoning laws.
“Special needs facility is permitted to use, which could include transitional housing,” Hurdle said.
“As long as we remain within this transitional housing with support services, wellness clinic, those types of things… for the operating model then no zoning change is required.”
Depending on configuration the building is expected to eventually accommodate anywhere from 50-100 of the city’s unhoused population.