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New long-term care home ready to move to next phase; County awaits provincial funding news

The County’s $97 million long-term care home development is ready to move to the schematic design phase. But without subsidy funding from the province, it is a need the municipality cannot afford. Between grants and interest free loans if the subsidy is extended, it is possible the project could be completed at no net cost to the municipality.

Council is being asked to direct staff to create a capital project in the 2024 budget to allow it to move forward, pending additional accelerated construction funding, from the province.

The municipality hopes to construct a new 160-bed facility on four acres of municipally-owned land adjacent to the existing H.J. McFarland Memorial long-term care home. The current home will remain in operation while the new building is under construction. Councillors were assured arrangements are in place with the fire department to look after code requirements in the meantime.

At Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Kyle Cotton, director long-term care, told councillors the redevelopment team (consisting of the home’s managers and staff, architects and consultants) have been working on the functional programing and pre-design phase. Cotton noted “green” initiatives will be examined throughout as will attention to tree programs.  The municipality is also considering how it could repurpose the existing building to address housing and childcare needs.

The pre-design phase drives the design and function of the home, including resident rooms, communal spaces such as dining room and lounges, support services, community and outdoor areas, admin services and staff amenities as well as central and building services.

He noted initial feedback from a consultation with staff, family council and the public was positive.

“Participants favoured the communal ‘Main Street’ concept in the preliminary design of the building, along with the use of the outdoor spaces for residents and the community.

The ‘Main Street’ concept offers access to the feeling of a small town street with a hair salon, cafe, store, town hall and multi-purpose space, chapel and community gathering.

“Some key changes made as a result of the feedback include increasing the size of the auditorium, chapel and harvest rooms, confirming patio access to outdoor spaces for residents on the second floor and including resident laundry and a dedicated volunteer lounge.”

The estimated 160-bed facility size is 114,000 sqft., just over double the size of the current home at 56,000 sqft.

The County will be able to allocate approximately $2,263,800 from development charges to support the long-term debt. In addition, it plans on launching a fundraising campaign to raise up to one million dollars.

The provincial Ministry of Long-Term Care has communicated it is evaluating the funding subsidy program and encourages all municipalities in the similar position as the County to continue to design shovel-ready projects. It is expected the province will announce a widespread call for another round of funding soon.

“There is a total of $2.7 million designated to support the design of the redevelopment project,” Cotton’s report states. “To date, we have spent approximately $402,000 and we are expecting an additional $128,000 due to change orders and ongoing project management.”

The ministry provides one-time funding (estimated to be $4,683,096) and a construction funding subsidy (about $1,258,213 paid in quarterly installments over 25 years) to help offset costs. Over the 25 years of the ministry’s construction funding subsidy, the new long term care home would receive $31,455,325 spread out over 25 years. However, construction costs are also expected to continue to escalate over time.

Cotton stated current Ministry policy identifies that 95 per cent of these funds will be available on substantial completion of the new home, “however, recent conversations suggest the ministry is exploring its options to advance these funds sooner to assist operators in reducing the long-term debt.”

McFarland Memorial Home today. The County operates H.J. McFarland Memorial Home, a long-term care facility, in Picton. Built in 1975, it is a two-storey facility consisting of 84 beds. The municipality has approval to operate 76 additional beds and has new standards it must meet as set by the Ministry of Long-term Care.

 

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