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City agrees to 'significant and important step' for Cassellholme project

Mayne gave a tentative date of Jan. 17, 2022, for 'snow shovels in the ground'
2021 06 03 Cassellholme (Campaigne) 2
The realization of the Cassellholme redevelopment is gaining momentum as the board seeks to move forward with unanimous approval of provincial financing from the partner municipalities.

The City of North Bay has approved the Cassellholme Board of Management’s ability to proceed with the financing of the Cassellholme redevelopment project through Infrastructure Ontario.

The unanimous approval came in a special meeting of North Bay City Council, Monday, and is subject to the City of North Bay’s final approval of the financing agreement.

It is expected, over the next four to six weeks, the agreements between Cassellholme, Infrastructure Ontario, and the nine member municipalities will be approved and finalized. 

Unanimous approval is also required by IO for the financing deal but unless there is a change of heart by any of the municipalities, they are expected to follow North Bay's lead to move the nearly $122 million project to the construction phase.

Chair of the Cassellholme Board,  Coun. Chris Mayne told his colleagues after a roller coaster year, "I'm extremely happy to see this motion coming forward. It's almost historic. It's been 12 years in the process."

As recently as late November the project was on the rocks and the Cassellholme redevelopment in jeopardy but new developments seemed to have turned the tide as officials from the nine municipalities debated whether to opt for litigation to protect their interests.

See related: City of North Bay could take over Cassellholme in latest proposal to move redevelopment forward

And: Cassellholme shines a light on redevelopment plan: Build now, talk ownership later

Mayne, wearing two hats as he often has throughout the protracted negotiations surrounding the financing and debt guarantees for the redevelopment says a deal for bridge financing with a third-party lender has been cancelled and the board will only accept the offer of a loan from the City of North Bay if absolutely imperative to keep the project in good standing with the contractor until the IO deal takes effect.

"On the board side, once this passes, we're all looking forward to getting back to monthly updates on construction, as opposed to monthly updates financing options," Mayne adds. "This is certainly a very significant and important step and I'd thank everyone for their support on this motion and looking forward to the redevelopment starting in the new year."

Mayne thanked Mayor Al McDonald and MPP Vic Fedeli for their work on the file and shared a tentative date of Jan. 17, 2022, for "snow shovels in the ground," although major construction will not begin in earnest until spring.

Despite the motion receiving unanimous approval, both Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch and Coun. Johanne Brousseau fired warning shots of sorts across the bow of the good ship Cassellholme. While pledging support for the redevelopment, the two made it clear improved communication between the stakeholders and appropriate governance of the board are top of mind to these councillors in particular — and the constituents who will pay the freight. 

Brousseau "still has lots of concerns that were never addressed, including having the residents live in a construction zone for four years." Brousseau also raised the possibility of staff members leaving Cassellholme to get away from the construction zone.

And, although Brousseau extended congratulations to the board, she said she "will not congratulate the approach you've taken to negotiate."

The Deputy Mayor agreed with Brousseau. "There needs to be a new relationship between the municipalities and Cassellholme — not what was happening before."

Vrebosch added, "It is a good day. When we get the letter from Cassellholme that says they aren't going to levy, that will be a good day for us, as well...This is probably the worst deal we've ever had but we're managing it because we need to be able to move forward. And, the fact that we need to take it on as a municipal home to be able to move forward is where we're at, another spot where we've been backed into a corner."

Following the meeting, Mayne offered, "I was pleased to see the majority of Council sees this as a very positive step moving forward. Certainly, some members will always have concerns and that's to be expected with a project of this size. Overall, I was pleased to see Council was very supportive."

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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