Bracebridge commits 10 million to local share for new hospitals
The Bracebridge General Committee agreed to commit up to 10 million dollars by 2037 as their local share for the development of the new hospitals in Muskoka, in the September 5, 2023, meeting.
According to the staff report, the Town’s contribution “will consist in combined value, of funds, land or in-kind goods or services” for the hospitals that will be developed in Bracebridge and Huntsville.
Mayor, Rick Maloney, said that having a hospital in the Town will be a benefit to the community. He added, “Staff have presented a package that represents the value that we see for a new hospital in our community, and for the residents of Bracebridge, but more broadly the residents of Muskoka.”
Maloney continued, “This is not upfront on the top of the current taxpayer. This is a plan that will see our contributions over an extended period of time and recognizing that it’s not just the residents of today but the residents of the future.”
CAO, Stephen Rettie, advised that the date of 2037 is in line with Huntsville. He said, “This is the date they had selected, that they believe they’d be able to raise the 10 million dollars, and we thought it important when MACH [Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare] ultimately makes their submission to the province that they show a kind of alignment among their partners.”
Rettie added that the Town may include land “as an upfront component because they would need land to start construction.” He said the overall contribution amount “was warranted, and value comes from that.”
Director of Finance/Treasurer, Paul Judson, indicated that staff hired consulting firm, Urban Metrics, to do an economic analysis of the Town, which included mortality rates and how they improve with closer proximity to a hospital, travel savings, and employment.
Judson added that the contribution can change over time, however, this is the best estimate they could come up with for now.
Councillor, Archie Buie, inquired about the timeframe the evaluation of the land that will be included in the contribution, which will have an impact on the cash commitment.
Judson advised that once the site selection is done staff can come back with a financial strategy regarding the value of the land. He added that the “value land, and purchase price, and foregoing investment returns, would have earned had we been able to invest that fund, like any other municipality is doing into the local share pot.”
Maloney indicated, “As you start getting closer to the value engineering the hospital board is doing, in terms of what that base is they actually need, not unlike what we did with the Muskoka Lumber Community Centre, as they work through that process and start narrowing their focus down, things will change, and targets will move.” He suggested that 2037 is a good timeframe.
Maloney added that the funding plan provides flexibility as the project moves forward. He said, “We’re taking a leadership role and saying, ‘Yes… Here’s our local share contribution.’”
Buie indicated the importance of clarifying the impact to taxpayers. He said, “The one thing the Muskoka taxpayers are going to feel is the levy, that they’re going to be levied at the local level – this level – but also they’re going to be levied at the District level.”