In the wake of the collapse of the most recent version of the Cassellholme redevelopment project, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said Friday the provincial government is ready to support the next vision for the long-term care facility.
Thursday evening, North Bay City Council decided to remain firm on its objection to a requirement the nine partner municipalities must guarantee the provincial portion of up to $65 million for the redevelopment.
Despite advocacy from the municipalities since the guarantee came to light late last year, Fedeli has maintained the Infrastructure Ontario option must come with those financial assurances from Cassellholme's partners to protect the investment.
"We have made infrastructure Ontario available to them for low-cost financing. These are the types of supports that the municipalities in the area are receiving from the province and we look forward to the group at Cassellholme and the municipalities coming together and taking advantage of the provincial monies reserved for them," observed Fedeli. "It is not going anywhere."
As demonstrated during North Bay's special meetings, Thursday, Mayor Al McDonald, the majority of councillors, and CAO David Euler remain philosophically opposed to the guarantee and the havoc they expect it would cause to the City's financial situation — especially its borrowing power and credit rating.
"We are ready when they are," shared Fedeli. "I know I saw there was a shift last night from the CAO [and] that they may be re-thinking [things]. I think they are looking at the recent announcement from Waters Edge of 160 beds at $55 million — which would equate to about $90 million for the size of Casselholme — so that has opened the door to some questions from the CAO."
The cost and timeline are once again unknown but a deal to redevelop Cassellholme is going to happen. Whether that involves new designs, a different site or scaling back the scope of the project, a fresh perspective is needed. Perhaps the addition of McDonald to the Cassellholme board will be that spark to get the project back on track in the coming months.
"We got that money for them and we are ready to participate as soon as they are ready to present a build that is at a price they feel they can afford," Fedeli concluded.