While late last week the redevelopment of Cassellholme was considered to be on life support, the project will seemingly live to see another day.
As recently as Monday morning the Chair of the Cassellholme Board of Management, Coun. Chris Mayne had no idea how the day would play out but kept one eye trained on his email inbox with the hope a last-minute reprieve would come for the contentious $122-million redevelopment of the local public long-term care facility.
Around midday, years of work on the Cassellholme file paid off as Mayne shared the agreement with its selected contractor, Percon Construction Ltd., gained the approval of Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips to proceed.
"All weekend long, I could just see it going south, and then what would we do?" a relieved Mayne tells BayToday. "We're delighted to receive this letter from the Ministry of Long-Term Care approving construction to move forward. It's a huge relief for everyone involved with the redevelopment."
A board meeting has been called for Monday afternoon to share the news "and finally move this forward in detail. We don't care how deep the snow is. We're looking forward to getting those shovels in the ground before the end of this year."
The Ministry's approval was necessary to meet the deadline with Percon to hold costs at the present level. Failure to do so could have meant starting from scratch. The board asked the contractor to hold the construction price till the end of September, but that added another $2.7 million to the overall cost. Percon later agreed to extend the deadline until Nov. 30.
Politics between Cassellholme and a group of mayors from eight of the nine contributing municipalities has stalled progress through summer and into fall.
"We offered to meet with the municipalities," Mayne tells BayToday, "but they all declined."
Cassellholme needs unanimous agreement from the nine municipalities to borrow money leaving the board no option but to levy.
"We're keen to move ahead with the levy in the next four days. We are right now at the wire, explains Mayne.
"With the municipalities turning their backs on pretty much everything Cassellholme has offered and responded to, without some additional pressure from the Province to resolve the redevelopment, the municipalities will continue to stall any progress or discussion until the current proposal is no longer in hand," he added.
Ministry approval is a large step forward for the redevelopment but the celebration could be short-lived. It is expected the project could soon be challenged by some of the municipalities in court.
With files from Jeff Turl