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Council agrees with pleas for new community hub

After hearing emotional pleas in support of building a “community hub” behind Brant Avenue school, city council voted unanimously to get city staff to do a feasibility study for such a building.
Several disadvantaged individuals living in the Brant Avenue neighbourhood in the northeast part of the city spoke to council Monday – some in person as delegations, and others on a video that was screened in the council chamber.
One of the delegations, Halima Ahmed, an immigrant from Somalia who’s a single mother of eight children, described the difficulties of living without services nearby and without good transportation options.
Janice Pearce Faubert, a now-retired single mother who helped found the Brant Avenue Neighbourhood Group, said she wanted a hub that would provide a variety of services, including access to food and clothing. She also wanted “a comfortable place where it’s okay to ask for help,” she told council.
The Brant Avenue Neighbourhood Group has been asking since 2008 for a community hub similar to the Shelldale Centre, which is located in a former school on Shelldale Crescent in the northwestern part of the city.
Last year, a Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health report identified the Brant area as one of the low-income neighbourhoods in Guelph with the most pressing needs. Its report said locally based community hubs allow services and programs to reach the people who need them the most.
The Brant neighbourhood “faces a disproportionate number of challenges,” Andrea Roberts, Public Health’s director of family health and analytics, told council Monday.
Asked by Coun. June Hofland about what the “return on investment” might be for building a community hub there, Roberts said studies have shown that “prevention is a cost-effective measure . . . the return can be $4 to $17 for each dollar invested.”
City hall hasn’t provided any estimates yet of what it might cost to build a Brant hub. There’s a city park behind Brant Avenue school. Linda Beal, a former principal of Brant Avenue school, asked council Monday to talk to the Upper Grand District School Board about the idea of a community hub in that location.
After hearing the delegations, council voted for the feasibility study without any debate.

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