Ronald McDonald House Ottawa gets $9.37 million in federal funds to help build major expansion

The project is scheduled to start in 2023, with construction expected to last around 14 months.


A $9.37 million federal grant announced Monday will help the local Ronald McDonald House come very close to the $18.9 million fundraisers need to move forward with an ambitious expansion.

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The newly expanded, net-zero carbon LEED Gold Standard building will allow Ronald McDonald House Charities Ottawa (RMHCO) to support an additional 347 families who travel to the city for healthcare each year, said CEO Christine Hardy.

“We are beyond excited. Without this grant, we wouldn’t be able to build as soon,” she said.

RMHCO now has $3.1 million left to raise funds. The project is scheduled to start in 2023, with construction expected to last around 14 months.

RMHCO first opened its doors to sick children and their families in June 1984, one of the first five houses in Canada built to reduce the cost of lodging for families while a child receives hospital treatment. The Ottawa facility is now part of a network of 16 houses across Canada.

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The original RMHCO on Smyth Road currently has 14 motel-room-sized suites with private baths, suitable for two adults and two children.

RMHCO’s 25,000-square-foot expansion will increase its capacity by 22 suites for a total of 36 suites, as well as new common areas such as kitchens. “One of the things that families identified in the focus groups was the need for quiet eating areas for families with children with eating disorders,” Hardy said.

The accommodations are also designed for other types of family configurations, such as divorced parents, and the building will have better accessibility.

As it stands, RMHCO can only serve families who live 50 miles or more from CHEO, and there are waiting lists almost all the time, Hardy said.

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The facility was originally built to accommodate families with children being treated for cancer. But that has been expanded to include patients being treated for a wide range of conditions, from organ transplants to eating disorders. Families come from all over Canada and as far away as Europe for the children to receive specialized treatment, Hardy said.

Federal funding comes from Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Building program.

Under the program, $1.5 billion will be spent over five years on green and affordable retrofits, repairs or upgrades to existing public community buildings and the construction of new buildings to serve communities in great need across Canada. At least 10 percent of the funds are allocated to projects that serve First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, including urban indigenous populations.

The RMHCO project will also be built to the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building standard, which will reduce its impact on the environment and help the building be more resilient to power outages and changes in energy prices.

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