EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include additional information provided by the Busby Centre regarding financing for the purchase of its new building on Mulcaster Street.
The Busby Centre paid $4 million this past Aug. 8 to buy 88 and 90 Mulcaster St., in downtown Barrie, from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Simcoe County Branch.
Busby says it has signed on for a $2.6-million mortgage at a rate of 7 per cent. Ontario Land Registry records show a higher figure, which Busby says includes private financing of a short-term or 'bridge' loan.
“We have further gained support from community champions to bridge the remainder of the funds to finalize the purchase,” Sara Peddle, the Busby’s executive director, said in an email exchange with BarrieToday. “Therefore, we have an active capital campaign to raise the funds for the purchase and increase operations of these buildings.
“With the purchase of these properties, we will be able to expand our space to serve the increased needs in our community," she added in the email. "We look forward to being able to impact the growing needs of those experiencing homelessness in our community.”
The Busby Centre is a community not-for-profit organization which advocates for and improves conditions for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, or at risk of being homeless, within the County of Simcoe, including Barrie, and the southern Georgian Bay area.
Formerly housing Barriston Law, 90 Mulcaster was purchased by the CMHA in 2014, with a plan to act as a social services hub under the Barrie Pathways to End Homelessness model. The Busby moved into the lower level of neighbouring 88 Mulcaster in October 2014, before expanding to the upper level a few years later.
But the CMHA moving into other space now has freed up room for the Busby.
“We purchased a new property at 99-105 Ferris Lane on Aug. 9 and used proceeds from the Busby Centre to make that purchase the next day,” Dr. Valerie Grdisa, chief executive officer of the CMHA Simcoe County Branch, said in an email exchange with BarrieToday.
The Busby Centre has just less than 6,000 square feet at 88 Mulcaster and gains roughly 10,000 sq. ft. at 90 Mulcaster.
It serves approximately 125 to 150 individuals within a 24-hour period.
The extra space means the Busby can create a safe space for those in need, said Peddle, offering them a respite from the streets during the days and nights and from the seasonal elements.
The expanded Busby Centre will also allow it to collaborate with like-minded organizations, amplifying its impact on the community.
This will help with warming and cooling space, where individuals can find refuge from extreme weather conditions, as well as provide more beds for those in need of shelter, access to showers and essential hygiene products. More nutritious meals will also be served directly at the centre, and individuals will be helped with job prospects and coaching to regain stability. There will be support services for housing, general health, mental health, addiction, justice, basic needs and general resources, and the potential of living in short-term transitional housing units.
For more information, visit busbycentre.ca.