Health, community hub proposed for Smiths Falls

·3 min read

The Smiths Falls Health and Community Hub has been five years in the making and the vision of the project was recently shared to Smiths Falls council members.

On Monday night, Michele Bellows, CEO with Rideau Community Health Services, appeared as a delegation to council on the future health and community hub proposed for Smiths Falls.

"We see a vision and it's really about how we can have our vision come to fruition," said Bellows.

During the committee of the whole meeting Bellows said the Rideau Community Health Services is seeking council support to work with municipal staff to further investigate opportunities and potentially develop a report for town council and the Community Health Services board.

Over the years, many potential spaces for the proposed hub have been looked at.

"We see spaces and we see spaces go,” said Bellows, adding that they are working with the Ministry of Health.

"We recognize there is possible other opportunities. Today we’re looking at specifically the land surrounding the Highland Corbett Park area."

According to Bellows, the town had previously done a community consultation in the proposed area and was hoping to have an opportunity to explore the option to use the land as the site for the hub.

The concept of the site is to create a space for the hub that is about 30,000 to 40,000 square feet.

The vision is to create a space in Smiths Falls for community, health and social services with help from agencies and the community coming together to co-design a community space "that's both welcoming and enables sharing of programs and services," said Bellows.

The proposed hub would potentially provide indoor and outdoor spaces for the community, such as a community kitchen, recreational space, community gardens and other green spaces, and have other programs and services that would be delivered in a family-based approach.

As well, the hope of the health and community hub uis to improve equity of access to services and improve clients' overall experience with the different services and health and wellbeing, according to the delegation presentation.

"We believe by pulling people together and working with our communities we will strengthen the communities," said Bellows, adding that they will develop programs and services for the community while also providing a safe space for both youths and adults in area.

The idea of the Smiths Falls Health and Community Hub is not something new for council.

"I think this is a great idea. I don't think it's one that we haven't been aware of but it's certainly one that I think is going to be wonderful," said Coun. Lorraine Allen.

"This is a very exciting opportunity, but I think where it's most meaningful is what benefit it would bring to the people of our community and probably the broader community as well," said Mayor Shawn Pankow.

Coun. Jay Brennan said council was on board with working on this goal with Rideau Community Health Services.

The Rideau Community Health Services is working with various different and local partner agencies in both health and social services sectors for the proposed health and community hub, said Bellows.

(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times

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