February 2023

Hospital Redevelopment

Members of the Muskoka Ratepayers attended an Open House in Port Carling regarding Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare and the hospitals’ redevelopment.  The Provincially approved redevelopment plan calls for two new hospitals in Huntsville and Bracebridge.  The current property of the Huntsville Hospital allows enough land for a new hospital to be built on site, with the current hospital being removed and turned into on grade parking.

The South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge will also be a new build at a new location.  To date, three potential sites have been identified.  The first being the “Fowler Construction Property” in the vicinity of Pine Street and Depot Drive close to Highway 11.  The second, a portion of Muskoka Royale Lands located on Ecclestone Drive and Muskoka Beach Road.  The third option is on Muskoka Road 118 West just past Muskoka Hills Retirement Villa as you approach Bracebridge from Port Carling.  Minimum criteria for land to qualify are that the property is a minimum of 40 acres, within Bracebridge’s urban centre boundary, proximity to Highway 11 or a District road, access to public transit, access to municipal services, smooth access for emergency services, and what other uses could co-locate on the property.  And of course, the property must be available for purchase.

As I am sure you can imagine, the costs to build these hospitals is astronomical and requires community participation.  Although the Province will fund approximately 75% of the project costs, the community, or “Local Share”, for the projects is the remaining 25% including 10% of the construction costs and 100% of furnishing the hospital, equipment and technology, land purchases and any other municipal servicing of the property.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare has been holding Open Houses to inform the communities of its efforts to complete the current stage of planning by the fall of 2023.  As part of the planning stage, they have to be able to demonstrate a financial plan to raise the “Local Share” monies.  The monies do not need to be in place by that date, just a plan to raise the community’s share.

Project costs have risen significantly since they were last estimated in 2019.  In 2019 project costs were $561 million with a projected $129 million local share.  If the 2019 plan were built in 2027 the potential/projected project costs are estimated to be $967 million with potential local share estimated to be $225 million.

Over the next few months, updates on the site selection process will be presented to the Board of Directors at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare.  A second round of community engagements will occur in March with more information on the evaluation of the properties for a preferred site.  And a final recommendation for the preferred location of the future South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge will be delivered to the Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare Board of Directors in April.

Your input is valuable to Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare.  If you would like to provide input on the criteria that should be used to evaluate potential hospital locations, criteria that perhaps should be ranked higher than others in making a decision, or if you feel there are other properties that should be considered, please visit www.mahc.ca/siteselection.

To learn more about the hospital redevelopment project, visit www.mahc.ca/planning-for-the-future.

The Board of the Muskoka Ratepayers would like to thank Allyson Snelling, Communications Officer for Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, for reviewing this publication for accuracy.