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Province announces plans for new Lansdowne Children’s Centre

Local NewsProvince announces plans for new Lansdowne Children’s Centre

Nearly 40 people made up of local dignitaries, board members, business owners, and Lansdowne Children’s Centre employees, attended a press conference announcing that a new location for Lansdowne Children Centre is in the works on Friday, January 12, 2024.

Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, alongside Will Bouma, MPP for Brantford-Brant, and Rita-Marie Hadley, Executive Director of Lansdowne Children’s Centre, all said that this development has been a long time coming.

An emotional Bouma said that when you have a team of people and advocates working towards a development like this, “it’s really good.”

“Lansdowne Children’s Centre not only serves families in Brantford, Brant and Six Nations, but also in neighbouring jurisdictions where you are all from, and it’s incredible to see all the support from my colleagues, both federally and provincially,” he said. “…From the small business entrepreneurs to the largest employers here today, you represent companies that are the bedrock of our community, and so many of your employees make use of the services that are provided here at Lansdowne Children’s Centre.”

An emotional Will Bouma, MPP for Brantford-Brant, takes a moment to gather his composure as he introduces Michael Parsa during a press conference on Friday, January 12, 2024.

He then introduced Parsa, who thanked Hadley and her entire team for the meaningful work they do to support children with special needs and their families.

“I witnessed this during a tour when I had an opportunity to visit Lansdowne here a few months ago. Our government’s putting children and youth first, to ensure that they receive the care they need, when they need it,” he said. “We’re working to improve services for children and youth with special needs, as well as their families, and I’m here to tell you that we are building a new Children’s Treatment Center right here in Brantford.”

Parsa said that the government is still in the early stages of planning but are working towards a new and more modern facility that will improve access to services for the youth who need it.

“A larger, more modern facility will connect children, youth, and their families, with a range of specialized services and supports in a safe and accessible space,” said Parsa. “A new Lansdowne Children’s Centre will expand support beyond the current 3500 children and youth being served in Brantford and the surrounding areas, providing them with better access to services such as speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, autism services, audiology, respite services, services for children and youth with multiple and, or complex special needs, and services for children and youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. … Together, we will help our children and youth grow into thriving adults in communities across the province.”

Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, addresses the crowd during a press conference on Friday, January 12, 2024.

He said that when children and families have better access to these types of services, both their short and long-term outcomes are improved.

Hadley then took to the podium, saying that the announcement is a promise for the next generation.

“Today’s announcement gives us the tools to be able to promise the next generations and the current families who rely upon us, as well as our dedicated staff, that with this acknowledgement and this public commitment from the provincial government, we are moving ahead,” she said.

Rita-Marie Hadley, Executive Director of Lansdowne Children Centre thanks those in attendance, as well as various advocates for their hard work during a press conference on Friday, January 12, 2024.

While the centre has been operating for 50 years, 25 of which have been out of the old Jane Laycock School, Hadley said that this new investment will help her and the staff to accommodate the City’s growing population.

“We welcome that diversity, and we want to be able to welcome them with the proper standards of services which we know that our new building will allow us to continue to operate, in addition to the other sites where Lansdowne provides services throughout our catchment area,” she said. “…We value this investment, and we will continue engaging our families in planning, and look forward to keeping you updated as we start this next part of the journey.”

Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, was all smiles after announcing a new Lansdowne Children’s Centre is in the works during a press conference on Friday, January 12, 2024.

The project will move forward in multiple stages for capital development, and is currently in its first stage.

“This will allow us to discern the scope, budget and timelines, and reconfirm all the previous planning we’ve done. We have done plans that have gotten us to this stage, but we need to refresh them, so they are accurate and so that we won’t be limited by them,” said Hadley. “We need to get some of that under our feet by working together with the government, the capital branch and within our ministry, to get to the next stage in order to verify when we can get to stage two and procure construction support.”

When it comes to the budget, Hadley says it will be a partnership with the government, as well as funding on their end and with the community.

“We will have responsibility as the host organization, and alongside our community, to raise a portion of money (around ten per cent of the overall price tag) as it relates to furniture, exterior and equipment,” she said. “We know that with economic fluctuation through the pandemic and supply chain, keeping on top of costing is something that I’m not prepared to speak publicly about at this stage. We know that there is a tried-and-true standard process that our colleagues are undergoing in Durham region with the new Grandview Kids being built, and in Ottawa, where the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario is underway, so we have the benefit of having the standardized processes and public infrastructure procurement that will guide us to get to that next phase.”

John Bradford, board chair of Lansdowne Children’s Centre, poses cheerfully after an announcement during a press conference on Friday, January 12, 2024.

Hadley said she is grateful for this future development and for the provincial government’s cooperation.

“We’re just grateful that Lansdowne will have the support of the government with this public commitment for getting the right expertise because we’re good at pediatric rehab, not so much the other part because that’s not what we were here for,” said Hadley.

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