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Eight of nine municipal partners ask government to deny Cassellholme redevelopment until concerns are addressed

'The mayors want the redevelopment project to be successful but a majority of the group do not see a way forward until these critical issues are resolved'
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The Cassellholme redevelopment and governance of the board is being questioned by eight of the partner municipalities in the long-term care facility.

If the members of the Cassellholme Board of Management had the chance to read a statement released by the leaders of eight of the nine partner municipalities further opposing the redevelopment of the long-term care facility — issued less than half an hour before they met, Thursday — they did not let on.

It was business as usual for the four remaining board members, Cassellholme CEO Jamie Lowery and staff minutes after the mayors of the member municipalities of Cassellholme announced, although they are welcoming of the recent decision by the provincial government to remove the requirement that their communities guarantee the provincial portion of the proposed redevelopment project, as North Bay Mayor Al McDonald told BayToday earlier this week, "the guarantee was just one of many concerns."

See related: Mayor Al McDonald resigns from Cassellholme board

And: Dispute between City and Cassellholme Board over reconstruction costs reaching boiling point

With the guarantee issue resolved, the municipalities have met twice in recent weeks to discuss those concerns and "will now fully focus on other key issues that have been identified since December 2020."

The mayors passed two resolutions during those October sessions, one outlining their concerns and the other reiterating the group's urgent request for a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

According to the statement, "the mayors want the redevelopment project to be successful," and besides Bonfield Mayor Randy McLaren, who has long supported moving forward, the other partners do not see a way forward until these critical issues as identified by the group are resolved:

  • The project has no budget and has risen from $64 million to $121.9 million.
  • The RFP process to select the project's general contractor was flawed and resulted in only one qualified proposal.
  • A competitive tender process was not used to award any of the professional services for design, project management, communications, and financing proposals.
  • Worries about the five-year, on-site construction approach will affect staff, visitors, and residents.
  • Alternative sites were proposed but not discussed at the board level.
  • The board moved to levy the cost of the project on the partners even after the financing plan was rejected by the majority.
  • Concerns have been raised about the governance of the board, which has seen multiple members resign in recent months.
  • Cassellholme spent thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign that openly blamed the municipalities for some of the project's issues.

Eight of the nine partners "recognize the need for the redevelopment to occur, but it must be accomplished in a cost-effective, competitive, transparent way."

See: Cassellholme partner municipalities examining debt guarantee for $122M redevelopment

And: Opinion, Dave Dale column: Financial impasse blown up like a beaver dam

The group's resolution states the final approval of the Cassellholme redevelopment should not occur until a closed meeting with the Ministry of Long-Term Care takes place to address its concerns, and letters to government officials reflecting the stance have been sent.

Meanwhile, a short update on the redevelopment during the Cassellholme Board of Management online meeting revealed the application package for the project has been sent to the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the project managers have been answering questions related to the submission. A planned letter addressed to the municipalities regarding the levy for the redevelopment has been put on hold due to the lifting of the guarantee. And, the board is seeking a meeting with the partners to go over financing options.

Cassellholme Board Chair and North Bay Coun. Chris Mayne suggested there is hope a meeting scheduled for next Thursday, in light of the guarantee announcement by MPP Vic Fedeli "will be very positive toward moving forward."

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