Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
November 27, 2013 permalink
The latest CAS palace is under construction in Woodstock.
New CAS building expected to be completed by the end of January
The brand new Children’s Aid Society of Oxford building is expected to wrap up construction by the end of January, with staff preparing to move in by early spring.
The new building will have three storeys totaling 10,972 square metres (36,000 square feet) plus a lower level for storage, a mechanical room, staff and youth room, and a large multipurpose room.
The new construction will replace the former building on Light Street, where cramped staff are doubled up in offices and there is virtually no room for storage.
“We’ve outgrown this building, it inhibits our ability to provide programming and services because we are so tight for space,” said executive director Bruce Burbank. “In 2006 the board looked at the future, that we’ve outgrown our space and realized we needed a long-term viable solution.”
In 2000, changes to the law saw the rapid expansion of services due to legislation that meant the CAS had “to intervene more effectively in situations of child neglect and domestic violence.”
By 2006 staffing increases resulted in a building too small for services that included child welfare, the Family Violence Counselling program, the partner response program, child witness, court support and the Open Door program.
In 2009, 35 staff moved to a temporary location on Dundas Street.
The site, which was the home of a former car dealership, was purchased due to its desirable downtown location, which Burbank has stressed will ensure "the needs of children and families in need will remain visible.
“At one point we put an offer on the bingo hall, we decided that wasn’t the best location,” Burbank said. “It’s not readily accessible for a lot of our clients. So when this property became available we seized on it.”
He added that the central location highlights that “we have children in need in our community.”
“Suddenly people are realizing we exist,” he said. “Before we’ve been tucked away behind the courthouse.”
The new building, built with hard construction costs of $10.5 million, will consolidate staff currently working at three separate locations in Woodstock.
The lease is up on the Dundas St. building the CAS has been leasing for the last five years.
Earlier this year the Oxford CAS was subject to a 2% decrease in their budget over a course of three years, which worked out to a $1.5-million cut from a $16.4 million budget.
But Burbank stressed that decrease will not affect construction.
The land for the new building was purchased with funds from the sale of the Light Street building to the County of Oxford with owns the land, and the mortgage payments will become part of their operating budgets.
The government funding formula allocates funding for infrastructure and building occupancy separate from direct service costs.
“Our building costs will not adversely affect our service costs,” he said.
The new building is designed to be highly energy efficient with curtain walls on both it’s front and back and a living wall, or a wall comprised of plants and a integrated watering system, on the inside.
“That’s a nice feature, funded by donations,” Burbank said.
Funding and building of the new facility has not been without its challenges.
Despite being identified as a high-priority project, the CAS eventually had to finance their expansion project through TD Canada trust after two unsuccessful applications for government grants.
In September 2010, the society had to go through an Ontario municipal board hearing to receive the rezoning and bylaw amendments it needed to locate on the land.
In June 2011, the CAS had to overcome another challenge when they had to retain MMMC architects to take over the project from Murphy and Murphy Architects, who were unable to complete the project.
Construction began in August 2012 but was delayed for three months after the discovery of ground water meant the building had to undergo a redesign.
Source: Woodstock Sentinel Review