DSSAB approves purchase of office building

A round of applause went out Thursday night after the Rainy River District Social Services Board agreed to purchase an office building in order to deal with a lack of space at its current location.
“The DSSAB staff are ecstatic about the board’s decision to acquire the building at 450/460 Scott St. for its new accommodations,” said CAO Donna Dittaro.
“This has been a long-standing issue,” she added. “It just feels so good that we’ve finally made a decision.”
“We have put a lot of time and effort into trying to deal with the problem,” agreed DSSAB chair Valerie Pizey, who also is mayor of Lake of the Woods Township.
The DSSAB had been dealing with problems of overcrowding at its location at 206 Scott St. for some time.
The board is renting space for the “Ontario Works” program further east on Scott Street, and also has files stored in other locations due to a lack of space.
Dittaro said the entire staff will be relocating to the new building once the deal is finalized and renovations are completed.
The building—currently owned by Armstrong Investments and the former home of Family and Children’s Services—is adjacent to an empty lot, which the DSSAB also has purchased and will use to build a new entrance.
“The building will take on a look as it will receive extensive renovations, including a new entrance which will allow full accessibility for visitors to the building,” Dittaro noted.
While she could not reveal the cost of the building and lot, Dittaro said the deal includes the transfer of ownership of the current DSSAB building to Armstrong Investments.
The Township of Atikokan had been vocal in its opposition to the plan in previous months.
Mayor Dennis Brown suggested the DSSAB consider setting up offices in Atikokan and other communities outside of Fort Frances in order to share some of the jobs the offices create.
“Council understands this may not be the most cost-effective way of operating, but it would certainly help stimulate the economy in Atikokan and other communities where jobs are moved to,” Atikokan council wrote in a letter to the board back in November.
The motion to purchase the building was passed in a 10-5 vote.
In other news, the DSSAB also passed its 2006 budget on Thursday night, including a 0.85 percent increase in the municipal levy.
“The staff and I are very proud of the fact that we were able to present the board with a less than one percent increase for the 2006 budget,” Dittaro said.
“Given the uncontrollable costs we must deal with, the staff worked very hard to contain any increases,” she stressed.
Last year’s budget included a 10.38 percent municipal levy increase—largely due to a funding shortage for land ambulance services.
Last month, the McGuinty government pledged $300 million in funding over the next three years for land ambulance in order to achieve a 50-50 partnership with municipalities across Ontario for the service by 2008.