Manor board receives report on expansion

by Robin Burridge
MANITOULIN—Members of the Centennial Manor board met last week to discuss the Continuum of Care Business Plan, a feasibility study completed by SHS Consulting and paid for by The Northeast Town, to explore ways to make the Manor more self sufficient and address the rising needs of the Island’s aging population.

The plan, a 37-page document, outlines how changes could be made to the Manor by adding a 4,400 square metre addition onto each existing floor that would contain up to 34 one and two bedroom apartment units and 20 assisted living units.

The plan also suggests that by expanding the Manor and providing supportive homes for the aging population, financial savings can be reached, better and more specific care can be given, and the future sustainability of the Manor can be ensured.

The Northeast Town council met earlier this month to discuss the plan themselves, and were so impressed that they motioned to “encourage the Manor board of management to proceed with the next steps as identified in the Continuum of Care Business Plan for the Manitoulin Centennial Manor, Phase 2: Business Plan Final Report, and further, to recommend that the Manor Board of Management apply for the necessary funding to support the development of detailed construction and financial plans to ensure this project is shovel ready as soon as possible.”

The Northeast Town even sent copies of their motion to the other Island municipalities in hopes of encouraging them to support the plan as well, however, when the Manor board met last Tuesday, municipal board representatives did not bring with them any similar recommendations. Many said they had discussed the plan with their council, but no recommendations had been made.

The meeting began with Councillor Pentii Palonen of the Township of Burpee and Mills reading a summary he had written of plan.

Questions arose throughout Mr. Palonen’s summary, as Northeast Town Deputy Mayor Al McNevin pointed out that many of the points were of personal opinion and contrary to facts found in the actual Continuum of Care Business Plan.

Conversation sparked among the board members of the cons found in the plan and some doubted whether or not the plan was feasible.

Mr. McNevin reminded the board that the study was simply a first step, and as the plan outlines, the next step is to obtain further funding and contract a detailed financial plan and engineering study.

“I was disappointed that some board members wanted to drag their feet or look for reasons not to move forward,” said Mr. McNevin.

In the end, the board moved to receive the Continuum of Care Business Plan and to move forward with the first steps of the plans implementation portion, “to apply for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) funding to help cover the cost of more detailed project planning and design work.”

The board also decided to approach area municipalities to gain project support to aid in funding applications.

“I was happy with the decision,” Manor board member and Assiginack Reeve Bud Rohn told The Expositor in regards to the board’s plan to move forward, seeking funding for further detailed studies. “The board now needs to get the support of the municipalities.”

“The Manor expansion is the single most important issue for this community,” said Mayor Joe Chapman after hearing the manor board’s decision. “We need to act quickly to ensure we get our share of funding for this important project. If we don’t, we could lose the opportunity to expand and modernize the Manor, add many needed jobs to our community, and lower the cost to the municipalities who operate the facility. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us and we need to act. I encourage every person who has an interest in the Manor to attend the next Manitoulin Centennial board meeting to ensure that the message is received loud and clear by both the Manor board and the funding agencies that we want this project to proceed as soon as possible. The town will make its 300 seat hall available if necessary.”

The Manor board will meet again September 13 at 1 pm. Northeast Town economic development officer Kristin Luoma may be present to discuss CMHC and other funding options for a detailed financial and engineering study in order to determine the project’s viability.