The Board of Management for Cassellholme confirmed Thursday evening the long-awaited redevelopment of the long-term care facility's 240 existing beds plus a 24-bed expansion is ready for construction at a total cost of $121,889,390.
The board approved the project in an in-camera session and advised the announced total cost covers building fees, construction materials and labour, fees for architects and engineers, legal fees, fixtures, and furnishings.
Officials say the new build could bring much-needed financial stability for both Cassellholme and the municipalities that fund a portion of operations through annual levies. The partner municipalities will meet next week to discuss the deal and the contract must still be signed by the proponent and approved by Infrastructure Ontario.
The provincial government has committed up to $65 million in funding for construction with financing options for the balance to be considered by municipal partners. There will be ramifications from this project's cost on the City of North Bay as a proposed community and recreation centre has been in a holding pattern for months pending clarity on Cassellholme. It is estimated some 10 per cent of the nearly $122 million is in place already. Ontario's $65-million share will be spread over the five-year contract and the City of North Bay is responsible for approximately 80 per cent of the balance, while also guaranteeing at least its share of the project's debt load.
Board Chair and North Bay City Councillor Chris Mayne said, “Eleven years of planning and preparations have gone into this. There is still work to do, and with the strong support of our municipal partners, we now look forward to starting construction.”
Cassellholme CEO Jamie Lowery said, “This is a great news story for the region and a big win for our partner municipalities who have supported the new build from the beginning. A new senior’s facility will enhance growth and development here in North Bay and provide economic spin-offs regionally.”
Discussed for more than two decades and approved in 2010, the new Cassellholme will be a state-of-the-art long-term care facility. Larger and more efficient rooms, corridors, and common spaces will ensure residents, staff and visitors have more personal space, a key consideration for social distancing. The new building, designed by Mitchell Jensen Architects is bright and airy with a logical pedestrian flow and contemporary HVAC for better ventilation management and infectious disease control.
“The current building has been a terrific asset for the community,” observed Lowery, “but it has reached the end of its useful life. Assistive devices and transfer units don’t always fit into rooms, resident beds are too close together, and ongoing maintenance and capital costs are becoming an annual strain and difficult to budget for.”
“This is long overdue,” noted Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. “We made a promise Cassellholme would be a priority and we continue to push hard for the project. We’re fully behind it.”
As with any big project, Cassellholme has encountered hurdles. COVID certainly set the project back and focused attention on more important issues. COVID also emphasized the need for a new building.
“Given the experience of the past year I think we all better appreciate the importance of long-term care in our community,” said Mayne.