York Region is giving Inn From the Cold $1 million in capital funding as the Newmarket shelter charity works to build a new facility.
Councillors unanimously approved the resolution today, Sept. 29, which will provide funding for Inn From the Cold’s planned new building on Yonge Street. The new facility will expand the charity’s efforts to provide emergency and transitional housing for the homeless.
Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said it is important to help partners like this, and the region needs help to address housing.
“The contribution of the region will help ensure that project will stay on the timeline it needs to,” Taylor said. “We need these partners to continue to thrive and be part of the network, and this is an opportunity to do this.”
The charity is using land, including some donated by the town, for its new facility. It is racing to have the facility ready by fall 2024, with the lease on its current building expiring.
The motion states the funding will also help strengthen Inn From the Cold’s application to the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation. The charity hopes to secure an additional $6.5 million in grant funding to supplement an estimated capital budget total of $12 million.
Markham Regional Councillor Jack Heath said it is an important cause to support.
“Residents of Newmarket should and ought to be very proud of what their council is doing,” he said. “This council has social responsibilities, of which our community can accomplish a great deal with York Region assisting."
But support for Newmarket’s plans to use a ministerial zoning order to speed along the process was less unanimous. The town is asking the province to implement one to help ensure Inn From the Cold can meet its timelines to avoid any lengthy period where the charity would have no facility.
The matter was on the agenda but not up for any regional council vote. But Heath said the order was not something he would support.
“I understand completely what they’re trying to do,” Heath said. “I don’t support the method … I don’t think any MZO, really, is good for the municipality.”
The orders have had controversy, with the province using them to push through development, sometimes against the municipality’s wishes.
But Taylor said the orders are appropriate on rare occasions.
“In areas where specifically it’s about the community good, where there’s a sense of urgency, that’s exactly what it was designed for,” he said.
Vaughan Regional Councillor Linda Jackson proposed including support for the MZO request in the resolution, but Taylor said the request is progressing fine, and he would not want that to complicate the region's funding support.
“This will get done one way or another,” he said. “We’ve raised a lot of money, we’re going to raise more … We’ve got a great amount of community momentum and support, and the need is huge, but it’s going to get done.”