Published Wednesday October 15th, 2008 - Telegraph Journal - Reid Southwick
SAINT JOHN - Common council received thunderous applause at its public meeting Tuesday night when it approved Key Industries' request for $150,000, allowing the company to renovate its new home and expand the support and training services it offers to people with disabilities.
Key Industries' appeal for city funding was part of a $1.2-million fundraising campaign designed to support the company's move to renovate its new location on Charlotte Street, which is four times the size of its previous one on Kiwanis Court.
The fundraising campaign will allow Key Industries to build new facilities, including a computer room, a fitness facility, a commercial kitchen, a therapeutic room and counsellor offices.
The uptown centre, which provides training and support services for people with disabilities, will also offer more outreach programs, a physical fitness program and skills training, among other services.
As part of the expansion, Key Industries is expected to double its workforce to employ about 200 people.
Key Industries, a program of the Saint John and Lancaster Kiwanis clubs, has already received about $500,000 from the province.
"The facility offers us an opportunity to grow, but also to offer premises to other organizations in the future," campaign chairman Tom James told council, suggesting the company's new operations will support lease agreements with other tenants. "This is going to be a centre of excellence; our plan is to make it second to none."
Eight of nine council members present Tuesday voted in favour of a $150,000 municipal contribution over five years, with only Coun. Chris Titus voting against it.
Titus said council should have approved more funding for the campaign.
Coun. Peter McGuire noted one of council's 10 priorities for its four-year mandate is supporting accessible workplaces for the disabled.
"One of our priorities is to show more leadership in supporting disabled folks and I will put a motion on the table to support this," said McGuire.