North Bay City Council has passed two motions relating to the City of North Bay's position on the financing of the redevelopment of long-term care facility Cassellholme.
Council members, including Cassellholme board chair and North Bay City Councillor Chris Mayne and board members Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch and Coun. Mark King, unanimously passed the motions, the first asking for 30 days before the Cassellholme board moves to a position in which it could levy the nine partner municipalities for their shares of the total project cost of nearly $122 million.
The second motion sets the table for a special committee meeting attended by the City's CAO, CFO and solicitor to provide a more accurate financial picture of the portion owing and financing options, as well as the potential financial impact.
"This motion is asking Cassellholme for some time to review those financing options that are in the best interest of all citizens in the District of Nipissing that pay into Cassellholme," said Vrebosch during a special council meeting, Thursday. "What we heard last night was that a decision would have to be made in one week's time in regards to whether we wanted to go with the Infrastructure Ontario option — and if not — it was very much made aware to us a levy option would be put on the table by the board."
Vrebosch noted the City's models need adjusting as the overall cost of the redevelopment released by the Cassellhome board last week is approximately $30 million higher than the figures staff have been working with. She said North Bay has increased its levy each of the past two budgets to reserve money to pay for its share of the project and more time is required to examine options.
Mayor Al McDonald expressed concern during Wednesday's board meeting over the impact on the City's credit rating if so much debt had to be guaranteed — as much as $90 million.
"This is not a slight against seniors and we're not against the redevelopment," Vrebosch declared. "It's about looking at the financing option that works best for the municipality. This is now in our hands to figure out how we want to pay for it and how we can pay for it. This isn't a conversation happening just in North Bay. It is happening in municipalities across the district that are in the same boat."
The Cassellholme partnership is comprised of Bonfield, Calvin, Chisholm, East Ferris, Mattawa, Mattawan, North Bay, Papineau–Cameron, and South Algonquin. North Bay's responsibility is for a little more than 80 per cent of the financial share and East Ferris pays the second most. The shares are determined on a per capita basis.
"It was very clear last night that many municipalities were opposed to guaranteeing the province's portion of the redevelopment," Vrebosch said, reminding her colleagues the municipality does not technically own Cassellholme as it is not listed as an asset on the City's books. "We need time to advocate with the province to pay for their portion upfront or to give a larger amount of money upfront."
The City plans to pursue an option for financing with a local financial institution brought about by Coun. Johanne Brousseau but needs the extension to do so properly.