Skip to content

Ward 5 candidates oppose transitional housing complex

Both Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan and his lone political opponent, Michel (Mike) Parent, have joined much of the Lorraine Street neighbourhood in opposing a transitional housing complex city council has already approved
City council selecting a Lorraine Street address as the site for a transitional housing complex for the chronically homeless has resulted in opposition from area property owners, Ward 5 Coun. Rober Kirwan said.

The 40-unit transitional housing complex on Lorraine Street is progressing as directed by city council, though neither candidate running in the affected ward supports it.

Both Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan and his lone political opponent, Michel (Mike) Parent, plan on siding with the group of neighbours who oppose the project

During a community meeting in October 2021, a group of neighbours expressed concern Lorraine Street in New Sudbury isn’t the right location for a transitional housing complex aimed at shifting the chronically homeless into permanent community housing. 

They argued a downtown location would be more suitable, where there are more services residents might need. Around this time, homelessness consultant Iain De Jong told city council a location outside of the city’s downtown core could work for a project such as this.

Area residents were also concerned about what the complex might bring to their neighbourhood.

In August, Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan was one of two councillors to vote against the city proceeding with the project’s $14.4-million design-build tender, joining Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc.

The transitional housing complex is slated to be a 40-unit modular build with private units and shared amenities for programming on its main floor.

The project is expected to be up for site plan approval and planning before the end of the year, with construction slated to begin in February or March, city manager of housing services Cindi Briscoe told

Modular builds such as this go up quickly, so she’s anticipating it will open by this time next year.

“It’s going to be a very controlled building, controlled access with limited activities inside,” Briscoe said. “I just hope people understand that people who want to get their life back together will have the opportunity to do that.

“There will be individuals that have to make applications for the program, it’s not that we’re going to be forcing people to take it. … These are individuals wanting to make their lives better.”

The complex will be staffed by 12 full-time and four part-time health-care, vocational and addictions professionals who make up an Assertive Community Treatment Team, which will provide residents with 16 hours of clinical care per day. For the balance of the day without programming, Briscoe said security will be on duty.

The city already has a smaller version of the team at work at a temporary location, where they are assisting 12 people who are chronically homeless transition into permanent community housing.

In addition to opposing the location, Kirwan objects to the city paying for its staff, since health care is under provincial jurisdiction.

Despite continued advocacy, the province hasn’t come to the table to fund the team’s $1.74-million annual expense. As such, the city has stepped up to foot the bill for the time being.

“I don’t think the city should be paying for health care,” Kirwan told 

Between widespread neighbourhood opposition to the project’s location and its expense, Kirwan said it makes more sense for the build to proceed as affordable housing, potentially for seniors.

“I’m listening to the people who will be most directly affected by it,” Kirwan said. “There is a great deal of pressure on city council to get back to only funding core municipal services in order to avoid further tax increases.

Parent is on a similar page as Kirwan.

“The decision was made in haste,” Parent said of the decision to locate the transitional housing complex on Lorraine Street. 

Despite being part of the decision, this is a sentiment Kirwan agrees with, since city council selected the Lorraine Street location in August 2021 without public consultation. At the time, they faced a tight timeline to submit an application with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and claim $7.4 million in funding the federal government had pledged.

“In hindsight for something like that, there should always be public consultation,” Kirwan said, noting that after initially voting yes on the project he has sided with concerned residents in opposing the Lorraine Street location. 

“My concern is that the voice of the community was not heard,” Parent said, adding that although he’d like to see transitional housing in Greater Sudbury, this isn’t the correct location.

In the event the city is unable to shift the federal funding toward a transitional housing complex elsewhere in the city, he said he’d support Kirwan’s push to see the Lorraine Street project used as affordable housing so they can retain the funds.

As for the annual staffing cost, Parent said, “We have to start getting the funds from the province for provincial responsibilities,” clarifying he wouldn’t necessarily vote to end this expense. If it ends up costing taxpayers more to not fund the program, he would support it.

The city is hosting a community engagement session regarding the Lorraine Street property in November, the details for which Briscoe said they are still hashing out.

At the meeting, the city will be seeking insight from area residents as to what kind of amenities they’d like to see included on the property, such as walking paths and benches. There are different elevations on the property Briscoe said might make things interesting.

As it stands, city staff are proceeding with the transitional housing project as unanimously directed by the city’s elected officials during 2022 budget deliberations and reaffirmed by a decisive 9-2 vote on the design-build tender in August. 

“We have not received directions to change that path since it was unanimously approved,” Briscoe said. “We are certainly following council’s direction.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
Read more