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Habitat South Georgian Bay officially merges with Huronia chapter

Habitat Huronia stepped in to run the Collingwood-area operations after a volunteer walk-out shut down the ReStore for a day in October, 2023
The ReStore on Sandford Fleming Drive in Collingwood.

The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity announced today it will be merging with another chapter in the region. 

Habitat South Georgian Bay merged with Habitat Huronia effective March 31, with a news release from the organization announcing the merger and stating it would allow for "optimized operations." 

The two chapters have already been working together since last year following a walk out by volunteers at the Collingwood ReStore, which was operated by Habitat South Georgian Bay.  

The local Habitat for Humanity ReStore was closed temporarily while volunteers protested some changes to the organization, particularly the parting of ways with longtime executive director Joy Fleury. 

The store reopened a few days later after Habitat for Humanity's Huronia division stepped in with senior leadership to mediate the conflict between the ReStore volunteers and the South Georgian Bay board. 

Robert Cikoja, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Huronia said in October, 2023 he anticipated running the Collingwood/South Georgian Bay operations for the next four or five months, and/or until the organization hired a new executive director. 

“One of the biggest changes was the fact that the board was very hands-on with the operations here. Moving forward, they will be managing the governance and I will steer the ship operationally,” Cikoja said during an interview with CollingwoodToday in October 2023. 

Cikoja and Habitat Huronia chief financial officer, Ann Adams, will continue to lead the merged Habitat group, according to the news release announcing the merger. 

The existing board of directors for Habitat Huronia, which includes representatives from South Georgian Bay, will govern the newly merged organization. The group will be accepting applications for any vacant seats on the board in May. 

"The assets of South Georgian Bay, including its ReStore in Collingwood and its housing portfolio will be transferred to the newly expanded Habitat Huronia," states the news release, confirming the 155 Sandford Fleming Drive location will remain open. 

Habitat Huronia will now serve the communities of Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Clearview Township. 

"The need for affordable housing is greater today than ever before," states Cikoja in the news release. "We are eager to engage donors, volunteers and municipal leaders across South Simcoe to ensure we can serve many more families with our expanded operations."

There are currently plans for Habitat Huronia to complete a single-family home on Christopher Street in Stayner, and for projects in Angus, Barrie, Innisfil and The Blue Mountains. 

Habitat for Humanity’s mandate is to build homes in the community to help battle the affordable housing crisis. The organization helps low-income families build and buy affordable homes through a no-interest mortgage with payments set at 25 per cent of their gross income.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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