Premier Doug Ford was in Dundalk on Monday to put a bright and shiny shovel in the ground to symbolize the province’s commitment to the new medical centre.
On arriving in town, he toured the present quarters of South East Grey CHC, and spoke to staff there to thank them for their efforts.
He said it was a great pleasure to see a growing small town. “I’ve seen small towns like Dundalk going the other way so this is great to see.”
The premier told the Herald that after 15 years of rural areas being ignored, the focus is back in projects like the Markdale hospital and a new health clinic.
“New families, new ideas - and the infrastructure has to come along,” he said.
He credited Bill Walker as an advocate for the community, but Mr. Walker was quick to say that having cabinet colleagues who are rural MPPs who understand the situation helps.
The new medical centre planned by the South East Grey Community Health Centre will go in downtown Dundalk next to the fire station.
On Monday, a row of seven shiny shovels tied with red ribbons were set up in advance of the Premier’s mid-afternoon arrival.
Shakir Rehmatullah of Flato Developments greeted the premier and introduced local councillors from Southgate and Melancthon. In April of 2020, Flato pledged $1 million to the new health centre, with $50,000 being given each April for 20 years. At that time, it was mentioned that a sod-breaking would take place when COVID restrictions lifted.
After the official ground-breaking took place, board chair Larry Mann and SEGCHC executive director Alex Hector and Allan Madden, and excited staff piled in for a group photo of those who look forward to working in a much-expanded setting.
At the public meeting in July, plans were presented for a potential three or four storey buildings.
The ground floor will be a 12,000 to 15,000 sq. ft. multi-disciplinary clinic with physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, a physiotherapist, chiropodist, a dietician and other related healthcare professionals.
The CHC would be on the ground floor, but added floors could allow other partners to share the same footprint to provide savings, he said.
In July, Mr. Hector said that the goal was to create a hub of services that could include hospice services or low income housing.
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald