Plans are to convert former Daily Press building into a community hub for food security
The Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB) has been confirmed as the buyer of the now former home of the Timmins Daily Press.
Chief Administrative Officer Brian Marks explained the organization’s intentions for the sizeable building located at 187 Cedar St. S., which was home to the newspaper since 1984.
“We’re going to create a community hub for food security,” he said.
Due to ongoing discussions and negotiations, Marks was unable to get into direct specifics at this time, such as which groups, partners and organizations will be involved.
However, he told The Daily Press there will be no one living in the building, and that they essentially want to make sure disadvantaged people have access to food seven days a week.
Food security has been an issue well before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the problem exacerbated over the past few years.
Inflation, combined with rising costs for groceries, rents and many other personal expenses, have made getting by very challenging for too many in the community.
“No one would dispute the fact that the gap has widened between the people of means, and those without,” Marks said.
“Given the fact that the DSSAB has a mandate to serve poverty throughout the district by delivering programs such as Ontario Works, employment, homelessness prevention services and affordable housing, we thought in order to secure our services, the first thing is we need to make sure people can get food.
“That’s why we purchased The Daily Press building. It’s a central location, it has loading docks, it has parking, it’s very accessible, it’s one floor – it won’t be difficult for people with disabilities.”
The CDSSAB leveraged its relationships with several community partners for the acquisition and initative.
“We’re going to get several community partners to lease space at a very affordable rate in there to create that food security system, which include not only access to food, but also programming, education and may even include a social enterprise aspect.”
Marks said the CDSSAB had been interested in the building for quite some time, and said they will need to make some repairs and modifications.
The CDSSAB has been acquiring many properties in Timmins in recent years.
“A lot of people, when they see that, they jump to conclusions and think that we’re building homeless shelters or things like that.”
The city’s only emergency shelter, Living Space, has been located at 316 Spruce St. S. since November 2021.
“All of the properties that we purchase, we renovate them, we fix them and we rent them at affordable rates, and some of them at market rates because we want to improve the properties all over Timmins.
“But in particular we have a bit of a strategy downtown, where we want to buy properties and renovate the units on the upper floors for residential, and have the main floors available for commercial space at really cheap rates,” explained Marks.
“The Daily Press building is none of those things. It is strictly related to community partners who have a role to play in securing food access for people in Timmins.”
With considerable square footage to work with, CDSSAB is aiming to put a major dent in local hunger.
“People won’t be living there. It will a place where anybody in Timmins can access services to help them get by day-to-day.”