The federal government has pledged $73 million toward the long-talked-about Project Manitou seniors housing development in downtown Sudbury, which broke ground in December.
The $73-million pledge consists of $3 million in funding and $70 million as a repayable loan.
This is a “historical moment,” Mayor Paul Lefebvre told Sudbury.com following a Feb. 9 media conference announcing the federal funding.
The 347-unit housing project at 302 Van Horne St. will include 105 affordable units in close proximity to the downtown GOVA Transit terminal and the city core, and Lefebvre described it as “all the things we need.”
“It’s a huge project, and we desperately need it,” he said. “Our vacancy rate is 1.7 per cent.”
The last time the city has seen an affordable housing development of this scope was when Rumball Terrace was built in the ’70s, he noted.
When it comes to Project Manitou, “affordable” is defined as 80 per cent of the median market rate.
Friday morning’s funding announcement was made in a shared recreation space at Cherry Gardens, an affordable housing complex neighbouring the Project Manitou site.
Up the hill, machinery was seen plugging away at ground preparation for the development.
Past mayor Jim Gordon introduced local Liberal MPs Marc Serré (Nickel Belt) and Viviane Lapointe (Sudbury), and highlighted the respect he has for developer Jack Wolofsky, who has been working on making Project Manitou a reality for decades.
A “humanitarian,” Gordon credited Wolofsky as a developer who keeps people front of mind.
“It will be important to bringing people to downtown,” Gordon told Sudbury.com after the funding announcement.
“The thing (Wolofsky) wanted to make sure was that in the building, it would have these social-type activities, like a social worker as part of the building, a physiotherapist; all these types of people to work with the people.”
Fittingly, Wolofsky was also the developer behind Cherry Gardens, the venue for Friday’s announcement.
The project’s total estimated cost is $110 million, which includes $73 million from the federal government (through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), $8 million from Wolofsky and a $29-million bank loan.
The development was originally proposed as an 826-unit development within two buildings. It’s anticipated the current 347-build will make up the project’s first phase.
During his remarks, MP Serré took a moment to address those absent from the funding announcement.
“Sadly, the provincial government is not part of this announcement once again in Sudbury,” he said. “The federal government and municipalities can’t solve our housing crisis alone. We need to make sure we have all three levels of government working together.”
Lefebvre later added that municipalities “don’t have the power to do this. We need other levels of government.”
This has become a common refrain from the area’s elected officials, with the provincial government also declining to fund the supervised consumption site and transitional housing complex, despite health care falling under their auspices.
The previous city council approved a development permit exemption for the project, Lefebvre said, adding that although he wasn’t on city council at the time he supports the decision.
“As we grow our community, housing is desperately needed,” he said. “This is a milestone for Sudbury.”
Although Wolofsky was unable to attend Friday’s funding announcement, he is quoted in a media release issued by the federal government, and spoke via a video message.
“My hope is that (Project Manitou) will enrich the city for generations, and that Sudburians will have a home where they can form a community, be stimulated towards an active, creative and healthy retirement and benefit from full vistas of the surrounding countryside.”
The building has been projected to open in September 2026.
In addition to its 347 residential units, it will include space for social services staff and psychologists to support residents.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.