Sundridge opts for $1.1M medical centre renovation

·3 min read

The Sundridge Medical Centre is closer to a major renovation after a vote by Sundridge council, Wednesday. And it was Mayor Lyle Hall who cast the deciding vote to move the project forward.

The vote was 3-2, with Hall and councillors Barbara Belrose and Steve Hicks in favour of renovating. Deputy mayor Shawn Jackson and Coun. Steve Rawn were opposed.

In making the case for the project, Hicks said it's “absolutely necessary to renovate to recruit a physician to the area and retain the physician we have and don't want to lose.”

But Rawn called the medical centre a “money pit,” adding “putting more than $1 million in renovations is a lot of money and makes no sense to me.”

Jackson agreed with Rawn, saying “we might be putting money into a sinking ship.”

Both Jackson and Rawn wanted their colleagues to consider building a new medical centre believing that, in the long run, the overall cost would be less than renovating and maintaining the existing centre.

Hicks disagreed, saying the last two municipal councils pursued the build-it-new option “and it never got off the ground.

“Now the medical centre is an embarrassment,” he said.

Hall chimed in saying he was experiencing Groundhog Day because the debate of renovating versus building new has occurred several times.

When renovation was debated in 2014, Hall said the cost was $700,000. And now council is looking at a project that has become more expensive by $400,000.

Hall doubted a new building would be cheaper. Demolishing the current facility and building a multi-storey medical centre could easily cost $4 million after factoring in the cost to house the employees at a temporary site.

“We can't approach that,” Hall said.

The facility is shared among the Village of Sundridge, Strong Township and Joly Township.

The Sundridge and district medical centre committee recommended the renovation, which includes interior and exterior improvements, to all three municipal councils.

Strong has voted for the renovation in principle, pending the look of the final design and the cost to relocate all the employees at the centre while the work is carried out.

Sundridge council's resolution was similar to Strong's motion, and now the municipalities are waiting to see what Joly council decides.

The $1.13-million renovation would see Strong pay for half the bill, Sundridge footing 40 per cent and the final 10 per cent paid by Joly.

It was agreed Sundridge would take out the loan to carry out the work. The repayment schedule is over a 30-year period with monthly payments set at $5,619.60. Strong's share would be $2,809.80, Sundridge $2,247.84 and Joly $561.96.

Hall suggested it might be easier to carry out the renovations in a COVID environment while fewer patients are visiting the medical centre.

Hall also said government grants sometimes become available and the three councils could tap into those dollars to reduce their respective costs.

Hall said it would be a missed opportunity if a grant became available and the communities don't qualify because they failed to put together an engineer's report detailing the renovations.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget