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Durham Outlook appeals to city for support

Organization short on funds for new building after having to remediate soil contamination

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Durham Outlook for the Needy has appealed to the city for some financial support.

The charity, which operates St. Vincent’s Kitchen in downtown Oshawa, has plans to move into a new home at 227 Simcoe Street South but is facing some major setbacks.

President Roger Ramkissoon told city council at a recent meeting the organization originally had set aside $1.3 million for the new home.

However, they later discovered soil at the proposed site was contaminated, despite a consultant’s report asserting the opposite.

Thus, the organization had to spend around $500,000 to remediate the contamination, leaving the construction of the new building in lingo.

“Some of the dollars we’ve saved over the last five years that should have gone into construction went into soil remediation,” he said.

Ramkissoon came to council with a request for $200,000 in funding over a four-year period, $75,000 in the first year, $50,000 in second and third years, and $25,000 in the final year.

Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson questioned if receiving the entire $200,000 upfront would make a bigger impact, to which Ramkissoon affirmed.

The organization’s current building, located at 51 King St. E., is plagued by challenges, Ramkissoon states.

These range from electrical, heating and plumbing issues to an almost complete lack of accessibility for clients, many of whom are seniors and others with mobility issues.

The building does not have an elevator, Ramkissoon says.

“There are serious accessibility issues. If there was an accident in the basement, God forbid, [the city] may not shut us down but the province may shut us down,” he said.

About 200 meals each day, and 52,000 annually, are served at St. Vincent’s Kitchen.

Ramkissoon says the majority of the funding they already receive goes to operational costs at their aging location and to purchase food.

Ward 2 city councillor Jane Hurst asked if they could borrow money against their mortgage, which has been paid off.

While this is a possibility, Ramkissoon believes it could prove challenging for them pay back the loan, and they run the risk of a lender seizing their current building.

If the new location is eventually built as envisioned, Ramkissoon says it will be totally accessible and they will be able to serve more people.

He also noted the organization is considering its legal options on the consultant’s report, but the company that performed it was bought up by a larger company.

The request will be considered during budget deliberations.