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EDCL begins rebuilding group home gutted by fire

Demolition work at the Elmira property got underway Monday. [Damon Maclean]

What was left by the fire went under the wrecking ball this week, the next step in rebuilding an Elmira District Community Living (EDCL) group home.

The building on the corner of Flamingo Drive and First Street in Elmira was gutted in a fire in May. On Monday, crews began demolition at the site.

The fire left four EDCL clients in need of alternative housing.

“Two of them are renting a house on Duke Street owned by Woodside Church,” said Cheryl Peterson, services director at EDCL, of the steps taken to house the men. Another moved into a vacancy at another one of EDCL group home properties. “The last gentleman, he moved right directly back into our rental program, and so they’re kind of all over the place.”

All four men are expected to move back into the facility once it has been rebuilt. EDCL estimates the property will reopen before the end of the year. Although many possessions were destroyed, and nothing could be reclaimed for the four men that lived there for 20 years, they will be able to re-enter their home sooner than later.

“They’re going to be building a brand-new house – it’s going to be the same footprint, it’s going to be the same. Obviously, the foundation will stay. So, we’ll just build up and we’re going to use the same blueprints, and then do [modifications] because the [original house was built] in 1997. So we’ll do any updates that need to be done, and there was some things that weren’t in the home originally and that, you know, we will be adding, like some tracking for lifting and if the needs of the individuals changed over time, so it’s going to do some upgrades to it, but it’ll be the same footprint,” Peterson explained.

Ironically, the fire occurred just weeks after the building underwent extensive renovations following a flood.

Following the incident, EDCL was inundated with donations from the community through the Canada Helps section of their website. However, one neighbour took it on themselves to do a run to raise money for the building of a new home. In total, there has currently been $9,000 raised through community donations.

Damage to the building due to the fire was pegged at $750,000, though actual costs are likely to be higher as the project advances.

EDCL hosts individuals with intellectual disabilities within the community, employing 75 full-time workers as well as 159 part-timers. It provides services in Woolwich, Wellesley and Mapleton townships to some 130 individuals.

Along with programs for people with intellectual disabilities, the non-profit organization provides housing to more than 50 people through a number of group homes.

Donations to EDCL are still open at the Canada Helps website.

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