Ottawa’s homeless animals will soon get a new home.

The federal government is giving the Ottawa Humane Society $1.8 million to fund a new, state-of-the-art shelter and animal hospital, federal Minister of Transport and Infrastructure John Baird announced yesterday.

“Our goal was to raise all the money by the time we break ground,” said Anna Silverman, manager of the Ottawa Humane Society building campaign. “We have enough now that we can certainly move full speed ahead.”

The OHS requires $12.5 million for the new facility. Prior to yesterday’s announcement, only 56 per cent of the funding had been raised for the new facility that will be located on Hunt Club Road between Prince of Wales Drive and Merivale Road.

The current facility is in desperate need of expansion and repair. While the facility used to treat about 2,500 animals per year, the need has risen to 11,000 per year. The old facility measures 15,000 square feet on 32,000 square feet of land and the new building is expected to measure more than twice the size at between 38,000 and 40,000 square feet.

“As anyone that visits our shelter knows, our 40-year-old shelter on Champagne Avenue is far too small and out of date to properly meet the needs of Ottawa’s animals,” said Bruce Roney, executive director of the OHS.

“Building a newer and bigger Ottawa Humane Society building will … enable staff at the OHS to deliver even better care to abused and abandoned animals,” said Baird.

According to Baird, the funding is part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan to provide close to $12 billion in new infrastructure stimulus funding over two years.

The OHS was chosen based on the fact that they were unable to proceed without funding, that there was no new money in the project, and the project would be complete by March 2011. The shelter didn’t have a date for when ground will be broken.

“All three of the criteria they (the Ottawa Humane Society) met or exceeded,” said Baird.

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