The Province of Ontario recently announced a Surplus Property Transition Initiative (the “Initiative”), aimed at addressing barriers to the development of community hubs. The Initiative builds upon the recommendations identified in the Province’s Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework & Action Plan.
The Initiative applies to properties owned by public hospitals, school boards and the Province that are no longer in use, have been deemed surplus or may potentially be deemed surplus in the near future. These properties may be placed “on hold” – meaning that the property continues to be held in public ownership – for up to 18 months in order to allow interested community organizations sufficient time to develop business plans, establish partnerships and secure funding to turn the site into a community hub. Property owners must be willing to participate in the Initiative and temporary funding may be available to selected applicants to cover ongoing operating and maintenance costs incurred by current owners.
Registered charities and not-for-profit corporations in Ontario are eligible for the Initiative and may participate with other organizations, including for-profit organizations who may not be lead applicants but may be identified as supporting organizations.
Interested organizations must submit an application to the Ministry of Infrastructure (“Ministry”). The Ministry strongly encourages joint applications where the proposal reflects coordinated or integrated local planning and the proposed outcomes includes co-location of services and an integrated delivery model. We recommend that organizations intending to pursue joint applications ensure clarity and commitment on the roles, responsibilities and contributions among their intended Initiative partners through, for example, a Memorandum of Understanding, Letter of Intent or Collaboration Agreement.
Proposals must be operationally feasible and should:
- be based on local community needs;
- clearly identify intended outcomes; and
- reflect provincial priorities such as healthcare, housing, senior’s housing, education, children’s services, poverty reduction, indigenous community services and employment and job training.
The application deadline for the Initiative is October 16, 2017 at 5:00pm. The Ministry will notify applicants whether their application has been approved by November 30, 2017. Successful applicants and current property owners will then need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry. If a viable business model is not developed during the “on hold” period, property owners will have full discretion to sell the property on the open market.
Please note that existing provincial policies and rules pertaining to the disposition of surplus public property for health and community hubs will continue to apply. Please see our October 5, 2016 Health Communique Increased Access to Surplus Property Available for Health and Community Hubs in Ontario.
Miller Thomson is available to support organizations with the application process, advising on definitive agreements with the Ministry and other stakeholders, and community hub business model development and implementation.