Georgian partners with the City of Barrie to address complex social issues
February 06, 2020

Affordable housing, social isolation and access to healthy food are some of the complex issues Georgian College and the City of Barrie hope to address with two new social impact projects.

Through The Shift Government Project, Georgian’s Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation has entered into a partnership with Barrie’s Office of the Mayor to tackle these issues together under the leadership of Martin Rochon, Social Impact Projects Coordinator.

The first project in development is an adaption of the Homeshare program, which is currently operated out of the City of Toronto by the National Institute for Care of the Elderly, in partnership with the City of Toronto and University of Toronto. It matches 55+ adults wishing to share their home with local university or college students seeking affordable housing.

In exchange for reduced rent, the student provides companionship and/or assistance with completing light household tasks, such as preparing and sharing meals, tidying up, carrying groceries, or walking a pet. The Homeshare program in Toronto has a fully developed framework, and employs a social worker as a “helpline” for each match in case they need any assistance.

Georgian and the City of Barrie are scaling this program and will aim at making 10 matches for September 2020 (10 students matched to 10 adults). The program will be open to all students, both domestic and international.

The second project will explore food insecurity by building a social enterprise through the use of technology. Working with a mobile application that aggregates produce and other items close to their expiry date, making them available for purchase at a significant discount. The program aims to help increase access to fresh food at an affordable price. The customer places the order, the store prepares it and makes it available for pick up at the customer service desk.

While this second project is still very much in the ideation stage, Georgian and the City are interested in leveraging this opportunity in combination with other food security initiatives to increase access to fresh food in Barrie’s “food deserts” – places where residents don’t have easy access to affordable nutritious foods.

“Georgian and the City of Barrie are already great partners and this is another example of how we can work together in support of the community and our students,” says MaryLynn West-Moyes, Georgian President and CEO. “It’s truly a win-win partnership. Together, we can address some very complex social issues, providing our students with a rich learning experience and a home.”

There is also great potential for these two projects to collide as well as to provide opportunities for field placements, co-ops, and other learning experiences for students down the road.

“This is about helping seniors age well at home, helping students find housing, and helping residents get affordable, nutritious food through innovative partnerships that tackle root causes,” says Mayor Jeff Lehman, City of Barrie.

To learn more about these projects, contact Martin Rochon.

Georgian is Canada’s first and only Ashoka U designated changemaker college, recognized for its role as a leader in social innovation and changemaking in higher education.

logo with the word "Barrie" in blue and light blue waves under the B