A Gatineau, Que., businessman says he's cancelled the pending sale of a downtown building so the city can use it as a temporary homeless shelter, freeing up the Centre Robert Guertin.
Brigil Homes founder Gilles Desjardins had previously offered the building at 217 rue Montcalm for use as a shelter, but on Thursday announced he was selling the property.
He said he quickly changed course when he learned the local health authority, the Centre intégré de la santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), had chosen the property as its preferred location for a new shelter.
"CISSSO has confirmed that 217 rue Montcalm is its first choice of a site to accommodate the homeless," according to a French-language news release from issued by Brigil later on Thursday. "Brigil and the buyer who has submitted an offer for 217 rue Montcalm have agreed to cancel the deal."
"For us, it is more important to help the community than to make a commercial transaction," Gilles Desjardins told Radio-Canada in French.
CISSSO, Olympiques welcome news
On Friday, a CISSSO spokesperson welcomed the news.
"This location therefore becomes a possibility again following the latest developments and the withdrawal of the purchase offer for the building," the spokesperson wrote in French.
It will also come as welcome news to the Gatineau Olympiques junior hockey team, which has been without a home rink since the Centre Robert Guertin was turned into a temporary shelter during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We just want to come back here [to the Guertin arena] at some point," the team's president, Norman MacMillan, told Radio-Canada in French.
MacMillian said he's been talking to Gatineau's mayor, as well as local MNAs Mathieu Lacombe and Mathieu Lévesque, about a solution.
"They understand that it would be important for us to come back to finish the year here with all that is going on," MacMillan said. "We want to help the homeless, but we also want to be ready [for the upcoming season]."