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County seeking ways to cover skyrocketing cost to build new long-term care home

Skyrocketing construction costs to replace the municipally-run H.J. McFarland Memorial long-term care home leave staff to recommend seeking other means to finance the build beyond provincial funding (30 -40 per cent) and municipal debt – including development charges and sponsorships.

The total project cost estimate is $93,567,672 for a 155,173 square foot building. In 2019 the cost estimate was $61,800 for a 136,000 square foot building,

It $93M cost includes $79,119,649 for construction; $90,000 for site development; $5,735,069 for architectural and consultant’s fees, insurance, HST (less rebates), etc; $722,954 interest expense during construction and $7,900,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment, including ceiling lifts.

The home is expected to last 50 years. The location is trending at the current property, but council will not be asked to make a location decision until later.

Staff notes the capital planning process in 2019 was not sufficiently advanced for complete information which now includes COVID-19 pandemic related costs.

In June 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the development approval process with the Ministry of Long-Term Care, and the projected 2022 construction start date. It is now anticipated construction will start in the first or second quarter of 2023 – finishing within 18 to 24 months.

Several factors impacted construction costs, including pandemic-related trade shortages, higher construction labour costs; supply chain interruptions, material shortages and higher prices, as well as the increase in the building area for greater space separation in long-term care homes to allow infection control practices.

Other provincial requirements to combat the spread of disease and viruses include increased safe spacing guidelines, single (preferred) or double (maximum) occupancy in rooms; dedicated bathroom; mechanical system supply and filtration design changes, 100 per cent fresh air ventilation in occupied spaces; implementation of emerging infection control practices and dedicated pathways for soiled or used items.

In his report to Committee of the Whole Nov. 11, project manager Tom Kovendi noted current construction cost estimates.

“Currently, with due regard for recent 2021 awarded tendered construction contracts for comparable long-term care homes, construction costs ranged from $389/sf to $456/sf. Those costs are already 10-35 per cent higher than the pre-COVID-19 projected 2022 construction start costs of $350/sf. Construction costs for 2023 are currently projected to be in the $489-$509/sf range for new long-term care home projects.”

County staff will lead the consultation process, with support from consultants HDR and Lett Architects Inc., in first and second quarters of 2022. The process is to involve seeking feedback from the home’s family and resident councils, leadership team, County management team, staff, and the community.

Staff will report back to council in early 2022.


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  1. angela says:

    I agree Janice. Why cant the existing home be upgraded? It’s like the new hospital – nothing but the best with no thought of making do. The existing county home is far from a crumbling building, just as our current hospital is not a lost cause. Do we really need state of the art or is it time to rein in expenditures and live with what we can afford? Tearing down the existing hospital seems like an extreme measure. Surely it could be adapted to some useful purpose, just like the McFarland Home. Hallowell House was a former school and Kentwood a dance hall, West Lake Terrace was a school, too. All three are being used as much needed homes for the aged minus the frills. Why not the McFarland Home too?

  2. Janice says:

    Could McFarland Home not be upgraded and expanded? Is it really in that terrible condition of no return? Surely upgrading and expanding would make more economic sense but there has been a severe lack of common and economic sense over the years in this County.

  3. Mike Rodgers says:

    The county needs to get the properties that have recently sold for over $600,000.00 and are accessed at $200,000.00 to be re accessed so they pay a fair property tax. MPAC was the worse thing to happen. The province needs to bring back local assessment personal that or even simpler when a property is sold then when the tax department gets the paper work concerning the sale, review the records of assessment on file and if the selling price is lower or higher then adjust the taxes. This is what is done when buying a car, too simple, oh wait did I just suggest something that makes sense in government.

  4. JB says:

    If the County can find $25 million to pay for County Road 49 because it’s a bit bumpy, then the County can figure out how to house our vulnerable County seniors with dignity and respect. If they need to raise our taxes for this noble cause, then fine by me.

  5. JennyD says:

    There’s no indication that the costs will not continue to soar, or that material will even be available by 2023. So, tax payors continue to pay consultants to explain the options of increasing debt. I say, just like many other projects, this needs to be put on the back burner until more investigation and a more prudent time for building. The means of cost do not justify the end user needs.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    The funding of medical and LTC facilities is not a municipal responsibility. While I have and still will donate to our local hospital, I to it with the idea that upper levels of government will fund the lion’s share. But for a community such as ours, one whose population is shrinking yearly and aging, and one with very little business and industrial income – we cannot afford to fund a LTC home. Every level of government has known that “crunch time” for our healthcare system started about 20 years ago and did nothing – except to use healthcare funding to balance their budgets. The voters have got to press for change and to demand that proper funding be restored – and that tax dollars do not go into private facilities.

  7. Chuck says:

    Simply put, we cannot take on that kind of debt. Costs have gotten crazy out of control.

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