In an unexpected turn of events, the Cassellholme redevelopment is back on — pending the final approval of the Ministry of Long-Term Care — following a lengthy in-camera discussion among members of the Cassellholme Board of Management, Thursday.
"We appreciate the concerns of the municipalities, particularly the legal issue raised around Cassellholme's ability to levy, as shared by the City of North Bay last week," said Chair Chris Mayne following a 3-0 vote in favour of the move.
"In speaking with our own legal counsel, we've been advised Cassellholme does indeed still retain the ability to levy," he added. "And, our understanding is that was the intention of the Long-Term Care Act legislation, should complete municipal consensus be unable to be reached."
Of an eligible six voters, Chair Chris Mayne, Vice-Chair Mark King, both North Bay city councillors, and board director Claire Campbell voted to levy the partner municipalities for their shares and to guarantee the provincial portion of the overall $122 million long-term care facility redevelopment.
Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer and Terry Kelly, a councillor in East Ferris, abstained until they could seek legal opinions on the matter. New board member and North Bay Mayor Al McDonald did not return to the meeting to cast a vote following the in-camera session. A seventh seat remains vacant as Sherry Culling, a provincial appointee, was not returned to the board.
It was only last week Mayne — navigating between his duties to the municipality and the long-term care home — watched as his fellow councillors and City of North Bay staff moved to quash the long-anticipated Cassellholme project in its present form due to the financing guarantee deemed unmanageable by many of the nine partners.
Mayne noted the board is bound by the RFP process to explore all possible avenues to make good on the agreement reached with the contractor, Percon Construction Inc.
He observed, "An independent, third-party firm has confirmed the price received so far is fair and reasonable, and comparable to other, similar long-term care developments across the province.
"Cassellholme is obligated to do all that it can — within its abilities — to move this redevelopment forward to the Ministry of Long-Term Care for final approval — or not — but that final decision rests with the MLTC."
Although the board has bought the project new life with the move to levy its partners, the abstentions by Kelly and Backer in search of legal counsel and the continued objections by the biggest partners in North Bay and East Ferris do not bode well for a simple resolution to the always developing story of the Cassellholme redevelopment.
"Given the ever-growing need for long-term care in our community and the expected inflationary pressures in the near future, the time to move the Cassellholme development is now," Mayne concluded.