Food bank needs a new home

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
The old OPP station could become the new home for the Hawkesbury Central Food Bank.

Hawkesbury council members expressed support for the idea during their August 17 teleconference session. The topic came up during Chief Administrator Daniel Gatien’s verbal presentation on possible future uses for the OPP building at the corner of Cartier Boulevard and Higginson Street. “They would only need about half of the OPP office,” Gatien said during a later phone interview.

Councillor Robert Lefebvre, who has been part of the food bank’s volunteer administration for several years, explained that the Main Street building where the non-profit group is now was sold in July and the new owner has other plans for the premises. The food bank’s lease for the building is still in effect another 12 months, giving the non-profit group time to find new premises.

“The plan was always to relocate to the (old) OPP building’ said Lefebvre. “The food bank of Hawkesbury is almost an essential service now.”

Lefebvre noted that the Hawkesbury food bank between 425 to 450 client visits per month. The main problems with the present two-storey Main Street site is the building has no easy access for people with mobility problems, the space is cramped and creates difficulties for social distancing during the current pandemic situation, and there is not enough storage space for inventory.

If the non-profit society can get the details worked out soon to allow it to relocate to the old OPP building, then it will be eligible for an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to help with any future renovation costs needed to the premises. But, Lefebvre noted, the town and the non-profit group need to have the situation settled before the December 2 deadline for the grant application.

Construction is almost complete on the new OPP detachment building on Cameron Street. Relocation of the OPP to the new premises should take place in September or October, leaving the old building vacant mid- to late-autumn.

Gatien, Lefebvre, Councillor André Chamaillard, who sits on the food bank board of directors, and other officials for the non-profit group will meet to work a preliminary agreement for relocating the food bank to the old OPP station once the building is vacant.