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When the 'levy' breaks a major Cassellholme obstacle is removed

'I think it's very important that all board members would be made aware of any change orders or increase in costs'
2021 12 11 Cassellholme Night Dark (Campaigne)
The Cassellholme redevelopment is scheduled to begin in earnest this spring, with some work to be performed this winter.

If the first meeting of the new year for the Cassellholme Board of Management is any indication, much more will be accomplished regarding the long-term care facility's redevelopment this year than last.

The highlight of Thursday night's special meeting was the unanimous removal by the board of the levies issued to the municipalities for the $121.9 million overall cost of the project. 

The nine partners, led by the City of North Bay, have long opposed both the levy from Cassellholme and the debt guarantee that was a stipulation to accessing lower interest financing from the province's Infrastructure Ontario. 

With that guarantee since waived and the levy lifted, the partner municipalities have now unanimously approved the financing arrangement with Infrastructure Ontario, with final legalities and contracts to be addressed in the coming days.

See related: Cassellholme gains reprieve with Ministry of Long-Term Care redevelopment approval

And: Cassellholme enthusiastic about lifting of loan guarantee; City of North Bay awaits council direction 

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

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

For the first time in recent memory, Cassellholme and its partners seem to have set their differences aside, opting to work together for the common good. Mayne spoke about relations improving, especially between the major players in the arrangement, notably the senior staff of the City of North Bay and Cassellholme's Board and administration.

Yet, if this meeting is any indication,  this project will rightfully face scrutiny every step of the way from board members and municipal leaders alike, putting the interests of the taxpayers first by avoiding cost overruns.

Coun. Dave Mendicino said after the meeting, "As a new member, I was happy to support the Board of Management rescinding the forced levy to all the municipalities for the redevelopment of Cassellholme. The Board should never have gone down this road in the first place as it was not in the best interest of Cassellholme or the municipalities."

See: Rural municipalities turning their back on Cassellholme Board

Earlier Thursday, the board welcomed two new members in Chisholm Mayor Gail Degagne and Papineau–Cameron Mayor Robert Corriveau and Mayne noted it was the first time the directors' positions had been completely filled in months.

See related: 'Over budget' Cassellholme a 'nightmare for municipality' says Mayor

Corriveau, who has been an outspoken critic of the prolonged redevelopment process and the effect it will have on the finances of the communities who fund it, wasted no time in respectfully questioning the method by which change orders will be handled.

"I think it's very important that all board members would be made aware of any change orders or increase in costs," Corriveau told his colleagues.

Cassellhome's redevelopment Project Manager Dave Smits assured the board the language is being finalized on the policy. 

"The challenge that we want to find a balance on is allowing the project to proceed and move forward as scheduled," he said. "We want to make sure the oversight is there on the items that are appropriate. Setting a threshold level to say anything above a set change order amount must come back to the board is completely appropriate."

Cassellholme CEO Jamie Lowery weighed in and made assurances of a "robust process for change orders."

Also discussed were preparations for some initial construction to be undertaken this winter, with Board Chair and Coun. Chris Mayne having noted it will begin in earnest this spring by Percon Construction Inc. and its subcontractors and will continue for an estimated four years. Smits shared the team is firming up a date for a "snow-turning" ceremony to officially launch construction.

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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