Grey County is significantly scaling back the redevelopment of the Rockwood Terrace long-term care home in Durham.
At its meeting on March 23, county council made the decision to make major changes to the project after a staff report on the matter highlighted that costs of the redevelopment project were spiralling beyond the county’s means.
A report from CAO Kim Wingrove and the director of finance, Mary Lou Spicer, showed that the total estimated project cost was now $140 million dollars. This was going to require the county to borrow $108 million to pay for the capital costs to build the facility. That figure represented almost the entire county borrowing capacity under provincial rules. Staff estimated the repayment costs for a 25-year mortgage on the project would exceed $5.2 million per year. Over the course of the repayment, the county was looking at $72.2 million in interest costs.
Ultimately, in an 83-13 recorded vote, county council decided to scale back the project and set an upside limit for the total cost to $92 million. Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen and Owen Sound Deputy Mayor Scott Greig were the two dissenting votes.
The decision came after council spent more than an hour in closed session discussing the situation.
“In general, council decided it was too much of a hike,” Warden Brian Milne said after the meeting in an interview with members of the media. “The project just got overwhelming in terms of dollars and cents. Council was a little nervous.”
The warden said the county’s primary concern is for the residents living at Rockwood Terrace and council decided that other aspects of the project – assisted living and village square components – had to “fall off the wayside” to make the project more affordable.
Milne said he is confident there will be shovels in the ground for the project in the spring of 2024.
Grey County has provincial approval to upgrade Rockwood Terrace from a 100-bed facility to 128 beds. The province requires the county to upgrade the facility from its current Class C ranking to a Class A ranking.
Wingrove said the “critical takeaway” from the meeting should be that county council remains firmly committed to proceeding with the long-term care aspect of the Rockwood project and redeveloping the home into a 128-bed Class A facility.
“That’s what we’re going to do,” she said.
After the meeting, Nielsen told reporters that he felt scaling back the project was “short-sighted.”
“My opinion is with investments like this, you need to think long term. Right now, we’re looking at a dollar figure that is scary. I’m not going to deny that,” he said. “It’s short-sighted and not thinking ahead 30 years.”
By Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 24, 2023 at 06:30