TBM works on bid request for Campus of Care

The proposed Campus of Care project at 125 Peel Street in The Blue Mountains is on the verge of moving to the next step of the process.

At its committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 1, town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Shawn Everitt delivered an update report about the project to The Blue Mountains council.

The CAO said the town has completed the request for qualification stage of the process and has now entered the request for proposal stage. Everitt said the qualification process resulted in a lone proponent for the project being identified.

The CAO said the deadline to complete the proposal stage and name a successful proponent to receive the 160 beds the Ministry of Long-Term Care has allocated for the project is Dec. 31.

“We anticipate (the process) closing near the end of November. We’re confident we will achieve the Dec. 31 qualification of a successful proponent,” said Everitt.

Everitt also updated council about the minister’s zoning order process, which the town applied for in order to speed up approval of Campus of Care. The CAO said the province recently introduced the new community infrastructure and housing accelerator program and would like to see the campus project go through that new process.

“They see this as a good opportunity to be a pilot,” said Everitt. “A lot of municipal projects will go through the community infrastructure and housing accelerator process. It looks like we’re going to pivot.”

He said that a resolution will come forward at a future council meeting to support moving from the zoning order process to the accelerator program.

Everitt also told council to expect to see some activity at the Peel Street property. The former tenant living in the home on the property has moved out and the town can now demolish the existing structures, which include a house and barn. Everitt said the barn will be removed under a separate tender as the town expects to bring in money from the barn demolition.

Staff requested permission from council to sole-source the engineering design and contract administration for the servicing to 125 Peel Street to W.T. Infrastructure, which is currently doing work for the town on Alice Street near the site. Council approved this request.

Members of council were pleased to see the project advancing.

“This is indeed very exciting. I appreciate this update at this time,” said Coun. Paula Hope, who inquired about a town communication plan for Campus of Care. “It’s very important for this news to be shared with our taxpayers.”

Mayor Alar Soever agreed that more had to be done to update the public about the process. He said it is important to communicate that the Campus of Care project, when complete, will be owned and operated by the successful proponent and not the town.

“This is the main thing people don’t understand. I keep hearing: why is the town getting into the long-term care business? Well, we’re not,” said Soever.

Everitt explained that in the middle of the request for proposals process, the town couldn’t communicate specific details with the public as sensitive matters were being discussed and decided during those conversations. He said staff shared as much information in the report as possible and said more would be coming forward as the project proceeds.

“This is the limited information we can provide. It was the last opportunity to provide this council with an update,” said Everitt. “There will be a lot of decision making in the first months of the next council to meet these deadlines.”

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca