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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Owen Sound Councillor Critical of County Plan For Grey Gables

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Richard Thomas gives notice of motion to have city send letter to MPP Bill Walker expressing opposition to plan to add beds at facility.

An Owen Sound councillor sounded off on Grey County's plan to apply for additional beds at Grey Gables long-term care home in Markdale at Monday's city council meeting.

Coun. Richard Thomas gave notice he intends to introduce a motion at Owen Sound's next council meeting for the city to send a letter to Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker expressing Owen Sound's opposition to the plan to add additional long-term care beds at Grey Gables.

Thomas calls the current plan "foolish" and says the county is "about to commit taxpayers to a critical mistake".

According to a recent Bayshore Broadcasting report, the county was looking to apply for 96 new beds at Grey Gables but may now instead try for 62 beds. County council resolved at its meeting last week to send the matter back to the Long-Term Care Management Committee for more discussion. Grey Gables is currently a 66-bed facility. 

The resolution came after county councillors received an update about the Long Term Care Committee of Management meeting on Nov. 10 when three construction options were discussed for Grey Gables and Rockwood Terrace in Durham, all that would add $1-million or more to the annual county levy moving forward.

"That's a lot of money in Grey County," Thomas says. "It's a small county, only 100,000 people. I think it's an expense that my grandchildren and my great-grand children are going to pay for, along with every taxpayer in the county."

"This is a place that does not make money," continues Thomas. "Doubling its size will not improve its ability to earn money, or to even pay for itself. The taxpayers are going to bear the burden of that."

Thomas claims the Markdale long-term care home loses about $18,000 per bed annually -- or about $1.2-million -- and he fails to see how adding more beds will solve the (financial) problem.

Opposition from municipal politicians in Owen Sound to the county's plan to apply for more beds to expand Grey Gables is not new. Both Mayor Ian Boddy and Deputy Mayor Brian O'Leary were among those who voted against a motion that passed in January 2019 to rescind a previous resolution to sell Grey Gables and combine its beds with Rockwood Terrace into a long-term care facility in Durham.

"What they've done instead is double-down on a money losing facility without any clear idea about how they're going to solve their staffing problems or how they're going to solve the money that is just leaking out of (Grey Gables)," Thomas says.

According to a recent Bayshore Broadcasting report, Grey County CAO Kim Wingrove says population estimates anticipate there will be a need for 108 beds in the next five years within 15 minutes of Grey Gables.

Thomas stresses the long-term care beds at Grey Gables are "absolutely" needed in Grey County, but thinks the plan that's been adopted is the wrong path.

"I think that most taxpayers probably don't understand truly the commitment that's being made here," Thomas says. "Thirty to 50 years of losses is what we're talking about here. And as we know the losses will never be less. They will always end up being more."

Grey County has until 2025 to have Rockwood Terrace in Durham re-developed to meet 'Class A' standards in accordance with the Ontario Long Term Care Homes Act.

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