Skyline Development Acquisitions President Greg Jones outlines the preliminary site plan for the proposed Campus of Care project near Thornbury. Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Town of The Blue Mountains has announced a $15 million deal with two companies to advance the Campus of Care project.

The Blue Mountains council held a special meeting on May 17 to announce it had reached a deal with Skyline Development Acquisitions and peopleCare to move forward with the development of property at 125 Peel Street near Thornbury into a multi-faceted Campus of Care development.

Council voted 7-0 in favour of a resolution to enter a letter of intention to sell 18.7 acres of the Peel Street property to the two companies to develop the Campus of Care project. The sale price is $15 million. The town purchased the Peel Street property in 2021 for a total of $3.45 million. Just over $2.3 million of the purchase was funded by long-term debt.

“This is a pretty proud moment for everybody,” CAO Shawn Everitt said.

The town will retain 11 acres of the Peel Street property, seven of which are developable. The remainder are a water course.

Several representatives from Skyline and peopleCare attended the meeting and both companies made presentations to council about the agreement.

“It’s our pleasure today to present this concept plan,” said Skyline president Greg Jones.

The concept includes:

  • 160-bed long-term care home (The Blue Mountains has received an allotment of 160 long-term care beds from the province for the project)
  • 160-beds attainable labour force housing
  • 300+ multi-family units
  • Centralized amenity hub
  • A daycare facility consisting of 80 spaces
  • Community gardens and open greenspace
  • Pickleball courts and a playground
  • 250+ bed retirement living
  • Enhanced naturalized stream corridor and integrated and landscaped trail network

The project will consist of a three storey long-term care building, two five-storey retirement living buildings, four five-storey multi-family buildings, two three-storey labour force housing buildings and a building for the daycare and other amenities.

“It’s super exciting. We really look forward to working with the municipality,” said peopleCare CEO Brent Gingerich.

In April, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark approved a community infrastructure and housing accelerator program application from The Blue Mountains for the project. As a result, the property will not require zoning or official plan updates/amendments for the project to move forward.

Everitt said a key design of the project would see the three-storey buildings constructed closer to the roads, with the taller buildings being located at the back of the property. The CAO said the next step in the process would be a subsequent report to formally execute an agreement for the land sale between the town and two proponents. In addition, operations staff will be bringing an additional report to council about bringing full water and sewage services to the property.

“That’s a big project,” said Everitt.

Members of council were pleased to see the project coming to fruition.

“This is very exciting and a very special day. We have a lot ahead of us to look forward to and a lot to do,” said Coun. Paula Hope, who encouraged the proponents to ensure the design of the project fit in with the character of the community.

In response, Jones said ensuring the buildings were a good fit for the community is a priority.

“We really do like to get the look and feel of the community. It makes people want to live there,” he said.

Councillors Alex Maxwell and June Porter asked the peopleCare representatives how they planned to staff the long-term care home and retirement residences once they are constructed.

Jennifer Killing, vice president of quality, research and strategic partnerships, said the company has a number of programs in place to ensure it has enough staff for its operations. The company recently completed a pilot program at its newly constructed facility in Meaford that saw 30 international nurses recruited to work at that facility, with living quarters being provided at the building that used to house the company’s home in Meaford. Killing also credited the provincial government with making heavy investments in education programs for PSWs and nurses.

“We’re now starting to see the benefits of all those initiatives,” she said, adding that the company is looking at partnership opportunities with local schools and Georgian College and that the proposed workforce housing at the Campus of Care would be a huge benefit for attracting and retaining staff. “It’s very important that we’re looking at all strategies for our human resources challenges.”

Mayor Andrea Matrosovs said it was nice to see the first hurdle cleared.

“This is just the first step on a journey we’ll be taking together,” she said.

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 17, 2023 at 16:00

This item reprinted with permission from   Collingwood, Ontario
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