$75,000 raised for Serendipity parking lot amidst ballooning cost

$75,000 raised for Serendipity parking lot amidst ballooning cost
Debbie Fortier gives a tour of the gravel lot at Serendipity Boutique (Photo : Jason Setnyk)

Cornwall, Ontario - Baldwin House, a Cornwall-based shelter for women and their children fleeing abusive relationships, recently reached a significant milestone by raising $75,000 for their Parking Lot Paving Project at Serendipity Boutique, their thrift shop that directly funds the shelter. Despite the success, the project has faced unforeseen challenges, leading to higher costs and meeting complex city requirements.

Debbie Fortier, Executive Director of Baldwin House, shared her journey of transforming the facility's gravel lot into a paved parking area. “It started with an idea and some initial quotes, but I quickly realized we needed an engineer and had to navigate multiple quotes,” Fortier explained—as the initial estimate of $75,000 ballooned due to legal and engineering costs. “I'm grateful for the community's support, which has been vital in helping us get this far,” she added.

“Our overall cost has well exceeded that, but we're working hard at Serendipity to raise the remainder of those funds to see the project through. The estimated total cost now is $130,000, given the paver, the drainage system, the lawyer fees, the engineering fees, and the fees from the City,” she stated. The paving and the mandatory drainage system switching from gravel to pavement came in at $98,000, plus HST.

The project's complexities increased as Baldwin House navigated city regulations like the Parkland Dedication by-law adopted in 2022. “The City came back with unexpected expectations like building a park and conducting an archaeological study. If we couldn't build a park, the City requested we get our property and building evaluated and pay them 2%, which would release us from having to build a park. Additionally, they wanted us to install a bicycle rack that holds five bicycles and meets specific standards like being set in concrete,” Fortier explained. “These are some of the new things that have come into effect that we weren't aware of when we decided to have the parking lot paved.”

A hearing on the project's minor variances is open to the public on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at 5 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Fortier will continue to work with the City, and she hopes for ease of city-imposed requirements, allowing the completion of the paving project without additional financial burdens.

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