Owen Sound will not be sending a letter to Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker opposing the addition of more long-term care beds at Grey Gables in Markdale.
A motion introduced by Coun. Richard Thomas to have the Mayor send the letter of opposition was defeated at Monday's meeting. The motion fell in a 5-3 vote. It found support from Deputy Mayor Brian O'Leary and Coun. Marion Koepke. Councillors Brock Hamley, Travis Dodd, John Tamming, Scott Greig and Carol Merton voted against it.
"I think council recognized tonight we are stepping back and trusting the councillors at Grey County to make the best decision with the information they have been provided with on behalf on the residents of Grey County," says Coun. Greig.
During discussions prior to the vote, Greig challenged the motion was a violation of Grey County council's code of conduct and asked for it to be withdrawn.
The chair of city council, Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy, dismissed Greig's notion and allowed discussion and a vote to continue noting this was Owen Sound council conducting its business.
Grey County council resolved at its meeting Nov. 28 to apply for 62 additional long-term care beds for Grey Gables. County staff have estimated building new 128-bed facilities at both Rockwood Terrace in Durham and Grey Gables in Markdale would at at least $1-million to the annual county levy moving forward.
Only Rockwood Terrace needs to be upgraded by 2025 to meet 'Class A' standards in accordance with the Ontario Long Term Care Homes Act. The county has already received approval for 28 new beds and the re-development of 100 existing ones at the facility in Durham.
Mayor Boddy, who voted against the county plan last week, says it's important the public knows the cost this is going to be on taxpayers where a private provider would not cost taxpayers the same way.
"And I think it's important the public knows, and I still object to this, that we moved ahead at the county without knowing what the costs are to apply for beds," Boddy says.
The province recently announced the allocation of nearly 200 long-term care beds in Grey County and the re-development of 300 existing beds.
In addition to the 28 beds approved at Rockwood Terrace, 51 new beds at Meaford Long-Term Care Centre, 91 new beds at Southbridge Care Homes in Owen Sound and 26 new beds at The Village Seniors Community Project in Hanover were among the projects affirmed by the province in September, according to a past Bayshore Broadcasting report.
Coun. Thomas accepts council didn't agree with him to send a letter of opposition, but maintains the county's current direction is a "bad plan".
Thomas told Owen Sound councillors at Monday's meeting long-term care costs in Grey County will be $39-million annually by 2027 -- just to maintain the status quo.
"But the plan here is to double the size of Grey Gables that is losing money and can't be staffed properly," Thomas exclaims. "I think people are going to be paying for this for a long, long time."
Coun. Thomas stresses, however, he is not opposed to bringing more long-term care beds to Grey County.
"I think there's no question there's need for more beds," Thomas notes. "I'm not far from needing one myself. I'm certainly in favour of that. My only concern is with the plan they have going forward."