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Cluster of non-profits and charities find home under Common Roof

Rotary Club of Collingwood partnered with New Path Foundation for a legacy project that will provide shared space for some of the community's service organizations
James Thomson, president and CEO of New Path Foundation, and James Saunders, past-president of the Rotary Club of Collingwood, at the former Saunders Building. The property will soon be the home of a Common Roof hub, where non-profits and charities can share space for their day-to-day operations. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Sharing is quite literally caring for a group of Collingwood social service organizations making plans to get together under one roof.

New Path Foundation and the Rotary Club of Collingwood have partnered to renovate and open a 7,000 square-foot space for non-profit and charitable organizations to come together and share services and costs.

The initiative is called a Common Roof Community Hub, and it will be located at 199 Campbell Street.

The site is known as Saunders Building, where the family-owned company once had their book publishing headquarters (now on Stewart Road).

“The Rotary Club of Collingwood has been looking for a legacy project … it’s our 50th anniversary this year,” said the club's past-president James Saunders.

The club has been meeting at the Saunders building, but has never had a permanent home.

Community Connection 211, which helps connect people with social, community, health, and government services, already leases part of the building, and the organization worked with Rotary to find a shared space model that would match the club’s vision and the community’s needs.

On their search, they discovered the Common Roof model and New Path Foundation, which already operate hubs in Barrie (165 Ferris Lane) and in Orillia (169 Front Street).

James Thomson, president and CEO of New Path Foundation, said the project was an easy sell to the foundation board.

“Our model is to cluster like-minded organizations together,” said Thomson, adding the collaboration with Rotary makes this project unique. “It made sense for us to work in partnership with rotary to bring our expertise into the development of the site.”

He said the partnership fit with the board’s mandate toward social purpose real estate. New Path bought the property, and the Rotary Club of Collingwood has committed $250,000 to the renovations.

The partnership ensures the 35-member club has a permanent home for at least the next 25 years.

“For Rotary and for my family, it checked a couple of boxes,” said Saunders, whose family still owned the property at 199 Campbell street until New Path purchased it for the Common Roof hub.

“It gets to the core of what Rotary believes in, which is investing in the community,” he said.

In addition to the Rotary Club of Collingwood having a meeting and community event space, the other tenants signed on include New Path Youth and Family Services, Community Connection 211, and Catulpa Community Support Services. There is still a 500-square-foot space for rent with access to meeting rooms and common areas.

The space will also include meeting rooms, a shared reception area, and common spaces.

Thomson’s job at this and the other two New Path Common Roof locations is to “animate” the community and encourage resource sharing.

For example, the tenants at the hub will have shared reception services.

“From an internal standpoint, the amount of collaboration that does happen is fantastic,” he said. “I’ve seen staff connecting and brainstorming back and forth. That type of animation means staff are really engaged.”

Thomson is already looking ahead to a second and third phase of development. He’s hoping to turn the house on the property into more shared space, and perhaps make use of the shed building at the back as well.

For now, he expects renovations to be complete and the hub to open by December.

Saunders said it’s great timing for Rotary because they’ll be able to tie in some 50th anniversary celebrations with the grand opening.


Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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