Refuge Youth Centre in Oshawa gets tenative approval for new facility on Simcoe Street South


Published November 8, 2021 at 4:22 pm

A former Catholic elementary school in Oshawa is looking for new life as a youth outreach centre with 27 units for low-income youth.

The application from the Refuge Youth Outreach Centre to convert the former Holy Cross Catholic School on Simcoe Street South to their new centre, complete with apartments, a gymnasium and offices, came before the Development Services Committee Monday afternoon.

The proposal went to a public meeting in April, where seven letters were subsequently received – three in favour and four against, with one petition in opposition containing 40 signatures. The Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto also had concerns and opposed allowing access to the outreach centre from the adjacent Holy Cross Church.

An extra driveway has subsequently been added to the project to accommodate the church’s concern and the Diocese said they now “look forward” to having the Refuge Youth Outreach Centre as a neighbour.

Councillor John Gray, who is not a member of the committee, spoke up against the motion saying putting the outreach centre on Simcoe Street “reinforces” a negative image of the city. “It shouldn’t be encouraged to be on Simcoe Street,” he said.

The rest of the discussion on the floor were in favour of the proposal. Councill Rick Kerr called it a “terrific initiative,” a sentiment Councillor Derek Giberson was in full agreement with.

“At-risk youth require more than a place to live,” he said. “One of the most vital ingredients to success is support.”

“This is an important step forward.”

The site is owned by the Muslim Association of Canada and the Refuge Youth Centre has a conditional offer to purchase the property and move their facility from its current location on Court Street, just a few blocks to the east.

The motion was approved by a 6-0 vote and will now go to Council for final approval.

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