Councillors frustrated, but hopeful, over Havelock long-term-care home delay

·3 min read

HAVELOCK — Facing ongoing delays in bringing a long-term care facility to Havelock, Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township Mayor Jim Martin says he shares frustrations felt by fellow councillors and constituents — but he remains hopeful that work will soon get underway on the long-awaited project.

“For years, we’ve been hearing nothing but ‘where is it? When’s it happening?’ Everybody is getting anxious,” Martin told The Examiner.

In February 2018, after more than a decade of lobbying from Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township, the provincial government — then led by Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne — promised a 128-bed long-term care facility for Havelock.

After the Progressive Conservatives took power later that year, the new government committed to following through with the project.

Despite the township purchasing and servicing a parcel of land in the southwest corner of Havelock specifically for the facility to be established, the project still hasn’t broken ground.

At a council meeting earlier this week, Martin said that AON Inc. is planning to put out a tender for its construction on Jan. 24, with a closing date of Feb. 11.

A year ago, AON put out a tender, but all replies came in over budget, he said.

“Right now, it seems like everything revolves around COVID with a lot of the (costly) building prices,” Martin said. “I think that has something to do with it as far as the tender coming back a lot higher than they had planned.”

But the township is also waiting for a development agreement from the province which is needed to go forward “which is a big thing when you’re trying to put a tender together,” he continued.

Bob Angione, the township’s chief administrative officer, said at the meeting “the final piece of the puzzle is to get that development agreement from the province.”

“It’s difficult to get an answer from the province,” and Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith has indicated that the pandemic has caused delays, Angione said.

Deputy Mayor David Gerow told The Examiner “it’s frustrating.”

“We need this, there’s no doubt about it. There’s a need and it’s not going away. It’s an issue, a big issue.”

He said the site has been rezoned and that it’s “ready to go.”

“Everything is there: the water, sewer, hydro, gas. Everything is right at the property line, so I can’t see why COVID, personally, is stopping the development agreement,” Gerow said.

“I’m not at Queen’s Park and I’m not an executive with AON, but I can tell you that from the outside looking in, I don’t buy it.”

It was an 11-year process even before 2018, with councillors making many trips to Queen’s Park to lobby for the long-term care facility, said Gerow.

At the council meeting, Coun. Barry Pomeroy said the process has been “very disheartening” and sees a lack of provincial support.

“So, we’re going to use COVID-19 this time for the excuse, that’s what it’s boiling down to. We’re not getting an answer,” Pomeroy said. “Has our (Peterborough-Kawartha) MPP Dave Smith got anything to add to this, because how many years has been ongoing?”

Martin said there is some communication going on between the province and AON and Smith “and that’s all we can hope for.”

He said he hopes to reach out to other municipalities facing similar issues to see if they can get help from various MPPs “because long-term care homes are so needed, and Havelock is no exception.”

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at bburke@metroland.com.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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