Downtown Mission's move to new location on McDougall Street axed

·3 min read
The Downtown Mission's executive director Ron Dunn says if the shelter can't work out a new deal with the owner of the McDougall Street site, the organization may have to settle for relocating to the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Elliott Street. (Amy Dodge/CBC - image credit)
The Downtown Mission's executive director Ron Dunn says if the shelter can't work out a new deal with the owner of the McDougall Street site, the organization may have to settle for relocating to the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Elliott Street. (Amy Dodge/CBC - image credit)

The Downtown Mission no longer has a deal to buy property on McDougall Street.

Last fall, the organization which serves Windsor's homeless population announced plans to sell most of its current properties and move to a former industrial site — now home to a strip mall — at a cost of $7.2 million.

The site would have needed rezoning. But according to the mission's executive director, Ron Dunn, the organization has lost that property and is now "back on the hunt" for a new location.

"The offer of purchase and sale has expired. It was extended and now it's expired again," said Dunn on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning. "That McDougall property is a dead deal — legally — but we're talking with the owner to try and see if we can revive that."

The property the Downtown Mission was hoping to make its new home is currently a strip mall and a vacant former industrial site.
The property the Downtown Mission was hoping to make its new home is currently a strip mall and a vacant former industrial site.(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"As of this moment, the only option we're left with is the corner of Ouellette and Elliott which, of course, we already own."

According to Dunn, that's not the preferred location for anyone associated with the mission. But without financial assistance, he added, that may be the organization's only course of action.

"As of this moment, the only option we're left with is the corner of Ouellette and Elliott which, of course, we already own." - Ron Dunn, executive director for the Downtown Mission on losing the McDougall deal

Dunn previously told CBC News that the McDougall property would allow the Mission to offer all of its services out of the same location, instead of spread across two locations in the city.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, Dunn said, the mission will attempt to make a new deal with the owners for the McDougall location — but doing so will be a "costly and time-consuming" process.

Following a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Downtown Mission, prompting the city to move clients into the city's emergency shelter at the aquatic centre, the mission's current home on Victoria Avenue has now reopened.
Following a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Downtown Mission, prompting the city to move clients into the city's emergency shelter at the aquatic centre, the mission's current home on Victoria Avenue has now reopened. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"It's a long process of rezoning," Dunn said. "There's not much we can do to speed things up. We're working very hard with the building department to see if there's anything we can do."

The mission closed its primary shelter on Victoria Avenue five weeks ago due to a COVID-19 outbreak, with clients moving into a temporary shelter in the old downtown library building. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit eventually ordered that facility closed.

The mission's clients were moved into an emergency shelter at the city's aquatic centre downtown. Last week, the health unit rescinded that closure order, allowing clients to return back to the Mission's Victoria Avenue location.

The health unit continues to declare the Downtown Mission in outbreak.

Tap on the player below to hear the full interview with Ron Dunn on CBC's Windsor Morning: