A retirement gift and a gift to Belleville.
On Thursday night, at Signal Brewery in Corbyville, during a retirement party for outgoing Habitat For Humanity Prince Edward Hastings executive director Bob Clute, Belleville mayor Mitch Panciuk announced the city will donate serviced land to Habitat for a future build.
The site is located at 639 Sidney St. and was purchased by the city as part of the Sidney Street corridor improvement project. The front footage of this vacant, fully-serviced, residential lot is 66 feet and it is approximately 144 feet in depth. The current Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assessment of the lot is $72,000.
While other municipalities, including Quinte West and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, have donated land to Habitat in recent years, Belleville has not. In fact, Habitat’s builds in Belleville have been made possible because the organization purchased land in the city for such builds, said the mayor.
Panciuk, in attendance with a number of local dignitaries including Hastings County warden and Tyendinaga Township reeve Rick Phillips, Quinte West mayor Jim Harrison, former Belleville mayor Ross McDougall, former Quinte West mayor John Williams and his son, current Belleville councillor Ryan Williams.
“The builds that have been done in Belleville were done with land that Habitat had to purchase,” Panciuk told those in attendance. “Last term, the City of Belleville did donate money to cover some of the fees and charges, but Habitat had to acquire the land on its own merit, which is much harder than in our neighbouring communities where it received donated land from the municipality.”
Panciuk, first elected as a councillor in 2014, said Clute has reminded Belleville’s first-term mayor about the need for serviced land in The Friendly City.
“It has been before 2000 (when McDougall was mayor) that the City of Belleville has donated land to Habitat For Humanity,” said Panciuk.
To loud applause from the audience, Panciuk said, “I remember telling Bob that if I was elected mayor, this would change. I’m pleased to announce tonight that 639 Sidney Street will be the location of the next Habitat build on land donated by the City of Belleville.”
Panciuk added at the city’s recent Housing Summit council directed staff that a statement in its Strategy For Affordable and Attainable Housing going forward will include a certain number of lots per year for organizations such as Habitat.
The mayor had significant praise for the organization.
“Habitat for Humanity changes people’s lives by providing affordable home ownership,” said Panciuk. “It makes life better for people in our community and Belleville city council is happy to make this announcement at such a great event.”
The mayor also had praise for Clute.
“Bob has been a tireless advocate for many charities in Belleville and the entire Quinte region,” said Panciuk. “He has worn so many hats over the years as part of many organizations that do so much good work… we can literally see his fingerprints all around us. We are fortunate to have had his attention and efforts and we’re the better for it.”
Following Panciuk’s announcement, Clute was emotional and thanked the city for the unexpected announcement.
“Happy retirement, Bob. I hope you agree that this is a fitting retirement present,” said the mayor.
During the evening, Clute described his involvement with Habitat for Humanity as the greatest thing he has ever done. Clute was with the organization for nearly eight years.
Since the first home build in 1996 in Picton, Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward Hastings has been providing families with a hand up to home ownership. In the past four years, that number has grown significantly during Clute’s watch. Clute has always been effusive about his passion for Habitat for Humanity and, in leaving, recalls the years he has served have been the best of his life.
David Morris, of DJ Morris & Associates Limited, who has assisted a number of Habitat affiliates Canada-wide in working through transition, is interim executive director while the board undertakes the recruitment to permanently fill the position.