New centre to make health care accessible

Unison to work with school as community hub

Planners of a new neighborhood centre have endured about three and a half years of red tape so their community won’t have to.

The new Bathurst-Finch Community Centre and Hub, which aims to make healthcare and education accessible to local residents, broke ground at the beginning of July.

The hub will be a satellite site for an interdisciplinary health team from non-profit organization Unison Health and Community Services which has locations throughout the city.

They will offer treatment services, illness prevention, health promotion and community development geared toward seniors and new Canadians.

“This is there to help support these groups,” says Ward 10 councillor James Pasternak.

While a whole roster of services are also planned, including settlement, counselling, employment, caregiver and family support, life skills and violence prevention, the final group of community organizations that will work out of the hub is still being finalized.

Some services will be provided for free, while others will be covered by OHIP or available for a fee.

Even though it hasn’t been built yet, the hub has already come a long way.

“When these things start they just start really as an idea, as a suggestion and you continue with it,” says Pasternak. “There are setbacks along the way but we endured and then we finally got the project ongoing.”

One challenge was working with funding from several sources, including the United Way and the federal and provincial governments, each with its own conditions and deadlines, Pasternak says.

“You’re trying to juggle, you’ve got all these balls in the air,” he says, later adding, “These things don’t happen overnight. It’s a long, arduous, regulatory process.”

The centre is being built on property leased from the Toronto District School Board, and will be next to Northview Heights Secondary School.

While the buildings won’t be physically connected, they will work together, says Pasternak.

High school students at the school will be able to get volunteer hours, participate in co-op programs, and use the extra community space for after-school activities, he says.

“So it’s a real adjunct to the school,” Pasternak says.

Local trustee Howard Kaplan emphasizes that the centre will give the school a chance to contribute to the area as well.

“(This) means that the school itself and the school property becomes a community hub, not just providing education but providing a full range of services for the community,” he says.

About this article:

By: Caitlin Orr
Posted: Aug 17 2011 2:02 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto