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Trades shortage prompts delay in opening of Grace Gardens

Guelph’s first permanent supportive housing project is now expected to open in June
Grace Gardens under construction last winter.

Guelph’s first approved permanent supportive housing project has been hit with another round of delays, thanks to the ongoing shortage of skilled trades workers.

Previously expected to be open last month, the hope now is to be ready for residents in June, says Gail Hoekstra, executive director for Stepping Stone, which is behind the Woolwich Street initiative.

“The construction team is working hard to get things completed as soon as possible and as we are in the final stretch,” she said, noting much of the remaining work is inside the renovated former Parkview Motel building.

Once renovations are completed, the facility at 721 Woolwich St. – found on the northeast corner of the intersection of Woolwich Street and Marilyn Drive, near Riverside Park – is expected to provide 32 bachelor-style apartments in order to house members of the city’s unsheltered population.

In addition to their individual units, residents will have access to a variety of shared spaces, including a kitchen and areas for planned 24/7 support services.

Delays will have an impact on the project’s budget, Hoekstra acknowledged, but she’s not yet sure what the effect will be.

“We have to review our contingency fund,” she said.

Stepping Stone, then known as the Welcome In Drop-In, bought motel property was purchased in 2021 for $3.8 million, with $1.2 million coming from the County of Wellington and Ontario’s Social Services Relief Fund, as well as $600,000 in the form of a willed donation from longtime supporter Grace Frank, after whom the facility is named.

That October Guelph city council agreed to chip in $884,000, with an additional $6.4 million announced from the federal government a few months later.

Initially, Grace Gardens was expected to open last summer, but last fall that was shifted to February in light of supply chain shortages.

Two other permanent supportive housing projects are underway in the city, including a 32-unit project from Kindle Communities off Willow Road, along with an eight-unit initiative from Wyndham House, geared to youth.

A 28-bedroom temporary supportive housing project from the County of Wellington is also in the works for Delhi Street.


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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