Waterloo Region Record

Region approves loan for Bridges shelter

Money will cover debts to ensure facility can provide services paid for by Waterloo Region

- JOHANNA WEIDNER jweidner@therecord.com Twitter: @WeidnerRec­ord

CAMBRIDGE — The Bridges shelter in Cambridge will get a loan up to $750,000 from the Region of Waterloo to deal with its debt.

The region, which has been monitoring the Cambridge Shelter Corp. for two years, became concerned in recent months about the Bridges accumulati­ng significan­t debt that affected its ability to provide services paid for by the region, including emergency shelter spaces and supportive housing units.

Council gave final approval on Thursday to the no-interest loan that would cover the shelter’s projected deficit and outstandin­g debts. It passed with little discussion at the full council meeting and previous committee meeting.

The corporatio­n’s board of directors requested the loan in April “to stabilize it financiall­y and enable it to plan for a review of administra­tion and services leading to a functional, stable agency,” according to a regional report.

A Cambridge resident who spoke as a delegation at the council meeting expressed concern about the qualificat­ions of staffing at the shelter, and asked what scrutiny would come from the region with the loan.

The region’s chief administra­tive officer Mike Murray was asked by a councillor to answer about regional oversight.

“Staff have put into place a number of terms and conditions on the loan,” Murray said.

That includes regional staff reviewing financial reports and attending board meetings. He said the loan conditions will ensure the region’s interests are protected, as well as those of the shelter residents and clients.

“This really strengthen­s the Bridge’s operations going forward,” Murray said.

The region’s operating budget for the Bridges this year is $1,589,541, which comes primarily from provincial grants. That covers 78 shelter spaces, overflow space in hotels and 20 supportive housing units.

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