On Tuesday, Peterborough—Kawartha MPP Dave Smith told Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township council that the province had cancelled its development agreement with AON Inc. for the facility on Old Norwood Road.
“The long and short of it is AON was to have it completed and have people moving in by Sept. 1 of this year and there is no reasonable prospect of that actually happening now,” Smith told Global News Peterborough.
“We just couldn’t continue on with AON as the developer.”
Smith said the agreement with AON included a provision that the developer had to start construction of the facility by March last year.
The property itself is fully serviced and ready to go for construction, but development of the facility hasn’t started.
Smith proposed council be provisionally awarded the beds so that it could then enter a request for proposal process to find a new developer for the project.
“What my belief is with the amount of work Havelock has done on this, they deserve to have a long-term care facility there. The people who live in the area need a long-term care facility,” Smith said.
Smith noted that residents and their families have a better quality of life if they can age in their community close to their family members.
He also noted that some Havelock residents have moved into long-term care facilities as far away as Scarborough and Belleville.
“I wanted to make sure Havelock council still wanted to move forward with something. They said yes, they would like to. As soon as we get a copy of that motion from council, we can start to move forward again to make sure the residents get what they deserve,” Smith added.
As for whether the facility will still have 128 beds, Smith said it depends on the needs of the community.
Smith told council on Tuesday that handing the project and land to AON Inc. in the past wasn’t the best process to follow and wants council to go through a proper request for proposal process this time around.
“Havelock offered the property to AON for $2, so there was basically no cost there. There were no development fees. The province gave Havelock about $7.5 million to upgrade the road and bring services in. Peterborough Housing Corporation started construction on their affordable housing beside where the long-term care facility will be,” Smith said.
“After the contract was awarded to AON, they came back a year later and said there’s not enough money to build it. A renegotiation went on and a little more than $7 million more was given to AON to do it and there were timelines in the agreement.”
Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Mayor Jim Martin tells Global News Peterborough council wants to look forward and work with the province to make sure the facility gets built.
“Unfortunately, with everything that’s happening, we were hoping it would be built by now,” Martin said.
“AON, obviously, couldn’t follow through and went to tender twice and both times were over budget, so it’s been stalled. When Dave told us Tuesday, they pulled the agreement, it was a shock to us.”
In February 2018, following years of lobbying by the community, including rallies at Queen’s Park, the then-Liberal provincial government promised the facility would come to fruition.
“It continues to be our number one on the list. Anything we can do to get this going, we’re looking forward to what the province has to say in the future here,” Martin added.
Both Smith and Martin said there is no appetite to “wait another five years” to make the project happen.
The plan, following due process, is to get this built in a timely manner, although timelines are still unknown.
Global News has called AON Inc. president Brad Smith for comment on this story and will update it once a reply is received.