In Response to PCH in Carman
The building of a new Personal Care Home (PCH) to serve our communities will soon be getting underway. While the journey has been long and filled with various challenges, the day the shovels go in the ground will be one our community can celebrate. It will be the commencement of the largest public capital project in the history of our area and the benefits that will accrue from this undertaking will last for generations. The Boyne River Diversion forever changed the future of the Town of Carman and I believe the PCH project will have the same type of lasting benefits. A significant difference for the PCH project is that the benefits will extend well beyond the borders of Carman.
A little history is important to note. Over 50 years ago a group of concerned citizens spearheaded the construction of the Boyne Lodge. It was not designed as a long-term care facility but over the years that is what it has become. The staff and residents continue to work and live with the challenges of a facility that was not designed for its present use. In 1982 the new Carman Memorial Hospital was constructed and from that day forward it was assumed that when a new PCH was built to serve the area, it would be located in close proximity to the new hospital. It was with this set of facts and history that, after the municipal election in 2006, the Councils of the Town of Carman and the RM of Dufferin undertook to chase the dream of building a new long-term care facility.
How hard could it be? It turned out to be pretty much impossible. The Provincial Government made it clear that replacing the Boyne Lodge in Carman was not on any capital construction list and would not be for a very long time, if ever. The Regional Health Authority (RHA), while supportive of the concept, agreed the replacement was a very low priority. The municipal election of 2010 came and went, and we were no further ahead on our quest of a new PCH. That all changed when, on July 2, 2011, there was an article in the Winnipeg Free Press announcing a new PCH in the Town of Niverville and it was being constructed using a different construction funding model. This was the opening we had been looking for. Using the Mayor of the Town of Carman’s many contacts, we were able to arrange a meeting with one of the main participants in the Niverville project, Mr. Gordon Daman. In the fall of 2012, at the annual meeting of the Boyne Valley Hostel Corporation, there was a public presentation on the potential for a new PCH using the different construction funding model. This public meeting was attended by over 100 people including some of the key leadership people from the RHA. It was at this meeting, with the unanimous support of all who attended, that the community leaders were directed to establish a committee and chase the dream of a new PCH.
In very short order 5 local citizens along with the Mayor of Carman and the Reeve of Dufferin formed a committee to begin the process to explore all options for a new PCH. This group employed Mr. Daman as its consultant and was also ably assisted by the Town and RM’s
Economic Development Officer, Tyler King. There were a number of important decisions which occurred through this process. One of the most important was the realization that the only way a new PCH could be built was to incorporate its construction into the existing assets, namely the Boyne Lodge and the Boyne Towers. This completely changed what had been assumed since the new Carman hospital was built in 1982; the building of a new PCH near the hospital was no longer an option. The other significant decisions were the creation of a not for profit multi-municipal ownership group, Boyne Care Holdings (2016) (BCH), comprised of the five municipal entities which make up the RHA Boyne Lodge catchment area; the Town of Carman, and the Rural Municipalities of Dufferin, Grey, Thompson and Roland. A business plan had to be developed and because of the new funding model significantly higher local capital contributions were necessary than what was required in previous government PCH builds. These contributions at this time are approaching $7.5 million. Over the years there were multiple public meetings held in each community involved and with few exceptions, the public feedback was always very positive.
Today as we move to the construction phase, BCH, the not for profit multi- municipal ownership group, is fully in charge of the build with the professional assistance of Southern Health-Santé Sud. By utilizing the existing assets, originally built by our community, we are able to now create a full aging-in-place campus. The PCH is only Phase one of a four-phase development. When all the phases are completed the campus is projected to include assisted living, supportive housing, and independent seniors housing (Life Lease). When these assets are all in place they will be owned and controlled by BCH and any long-term financial surpluses will be used to the benefit of senior care in the member communities. Beyond this plan is the potential to extend additional seniors housing, specifically smaller assisted living facilities, into neighbouring communities like Roland, Miami, Elm Creek and St. Claude. All of this will be done under the guidance and ownership of BCH with the direct involvement of these communities.
Unfortunately, extensive negotiations to purchase the land required for the PCH and future senior care development phases were unsuccessful. Neither the amount of land needed, nor the purchase price could be agreed upon and the Town of Carman had to make the very difficult decision to either let the project die or move to expropriation. This was a disappointing outcome for everyone involved. It is unfortunate that arguably the two most important public capital projects in Carman in the last thirty years, the Boyne River Diversion and now the new PCH project, both required the use of expropriation.
For those of us involved from the beginning, when construction starts it will be the fulfillment of a dream. But none of this would have been possible without the hundreds of hours of volunteer time, the generous donations of many, the vision and courageous decisions by the municipal partners, and the support of Southern Health-Santé Sud and the Provincial Government, especially the Minister of Health, Cameron Friesen, and our local MLA, Blaine Pedersen.
The project will need the continuing support of the community, the RHA and governments as we proceed through the next 30 months of construction. When the new 110 bed PCH is completed and in operation, it will usher in a new era of long-term care in our communities for generations to come.
I think we’re in trouble, and I mean, the whole R.M. of Dufferin.
We have a council who doesn’t seem to care a whit about the ratepayers while drawing a fairly substantial remuneration, as follows for 2018: G. Gray- $29,012; J. Peckover- $21,982; C. Morgan(for the period of time from Oct. election to Dec. 31/18)- $4,004; H. Takvam – $21,937; S. Harder- $21,4467; B. Fraser- $21,992; F. Dunn- $22,314. Total- $162,074. 2014 remuneration paid was $147,065, and increase of 9.26%. 2010 remuneration paid $99,176 – 59.61% increase.
Although my councillor, Barrie Fraser, realizes that I have had a problem since early 2018, his face and body have not appeared to me and he has not called to get to the bottom of the problem. Neither have the reeve or deputy reeve. I have been in contact with some or all of the current council since early 2018. To date, the response from them for any information requested has been tepid or non-existent.
On Jan. 16/19 I attended a council meeting, was told that since I didn’t have a prearranged appointment that I would only be allowed 2-5 minutes for a presentation. In addition, the meeting which was supposed to start at 7 p.m. wasn’t called to order until after 7:07 p.m. (the last time I checked the clock). When I started to speak I was rudely interrupted and told that I must address only the chair. All this because I asked for Barrie Fraser to identify himself, told him I had a bone to pick with him and started to say “I resent…”.
Since Barry Fraser informed me when I called him in early 2018 regarding the initial tax notice regarding the PCH that I had lots of money, I felt that he should be called on that. To my mind, that is fairly ignorant. To date, he has not contacted me although he has known since at least the Jan.16/19 meeting that there is a problem.
In a Jan.16/19 letter to council, I posed 11 questions to which I required and was entitled (as a ratepayer) to answers. Some questions were:
(a) amount of funds in reserve presently held by the R.M., the reason and justification for holding this amount;
(b) the reason why this R.M. continually increases taxes when others do not increase or in some cases decrease the amount of their taxes.
(c) how many councillors and/or reeve own agricultural land of 1/4 section of more on which they pay taxes- (actively farm or rent)
The town provides this information on their residents’ tax bills. Therefore it seems only feasible that the ratepayers of the R.M. are entitled to this same information. Several questions about the PCH, including who is responsible for losses, who will be paying, and the amount to be paid for the operation of this facility. Also, where did the “extra” funds appear from (from $1,000,000 down to $825,000)? Did the R.M. not know about these funds when they sent the tax notice requiring 15 years of tax payments (above all other taxes) since a few months later the $1,000,000 was revised downwards to $825,000. I had requested a response by Jan. 23/19. Their response stated that some documents did not exist and could not be provided without much difficulty. A letter dated Feb. 20/19 contained their supposed responses. Only 1 of my questions was answered.
On Feb. 24/19 I again wrote, responding to their non-response, asking for at least the 2nd time of a calculation of three $0.02 (that’s 2 cents)penalties on my water bill since Sept. 30/18. As of July 1/18 I had a credit balance of $1.32. Reason for this balance was that I always remitted $300.00 to the R.M. So every water bill since they had a credit balance until the $300 was used up. When that amount was gone I remitted another $300. The R.M. had the use of my funds for all these years but decided it was in their best interest to charge me $0.02 a month to this present date. After a third request, I was told to do my own calculation. Talk about respect! Since the R.M. made the charge they are responsible for providing the calculation. They have the information (or should).
On April 10, I received a letter from the R.M. with some incorrect information. And a notice that if you remove any structure from your property you are required to obtain a $155 permit and any permit not applied for may result in a double fee for the unattained permit. This is from the fall (October) 2013. Am I the only ratepayers who have been treated this way? They also attempted to answer some of my previous questions from Jan. This letter also said they were enclosing copies of my water bills. These were not enclosed so I guess the good fairy got them.
On April18/19 at 10:05 a.m. I spoke to Fred Dunn, a councillor, by telephone. I requested information on who bought the welder, as per the Dec. 18/18 council minutes. A motion was made and seconded by Fred Dunn and Barrie Fraser. Dunn originally said it was put up for tender. I requested the location where the tender was placed as I wanted a copy. Immediately he backtracked and suddenly remembered that it wasn’t put up for tender. I still haven’t received an answer as to who bought this welder. He stated it was just a piece of junk. I have a concern since I believe the amount received ($1.00) was below scrap metal price and council could have received more than the one dollar ($1.00) they did receive if they were doing their job. I am awaiting a response from whoever on the council feels that the ratepayers of this municipality are entitled to answer for where their money is spent and/or collected from the sale of equipment.
At the April 16 meeting I attended, several documents we’re projected on a screen for all in attendance to view although each was shown for only a very short period of time. In particular, I requested a copy of one of these documents. The CAO responded it would be provided. To date, I have not received it although a receipt was the $310 that I remitted for the overdue permit was sent to me. I have requested further documentation,
i.e., bylaw for the requirement for a permit for the removal of a structure, date of the by-law, the amount of penalty imposed, Chris Lorenc wrote a letter to the Winnipeg Free Press recently. He writes “All taxpayers should hold their provincial leaders accountable. The mayor and council have the responsibility to stand up and speak out for the residents. It’s time for Winnipeggers to call the mayor, their councilors and all Winnipeg MLAs with a simple message, “Enough of this! Fix it!”
I have further questions to which I would like a response from council:
1) Is the Memorial Hall a public space?
2) Are the offices of the R.M. and town of Carman public spaces?
3) Are all ratepayers allowed to attend to these spaces? Or are some restricted?
4) Are these spaces maintained by funds from ratepayers?
Another tidbit of information which may be interesting to all ratepayers is found in the Jan.10/19 minutes of the town of Carman and R.M. of Dufferin. One item reported on was the Carman Minor Ball committee. As per their information, quote -“Doug felt that he needed a commitment from the R.M. of Dufferin to lower the north ditch and install a pipe in the crossing. He advised that he feels they need $500,000 of support before moving forward with the project. They asked for a letter of support from the 2 municipalities as it would be helpful for the fundraising efforts.”
What will be the final total of this project? What happened to the old cow pasture and hayfield and all the fun kids made for themselves?
I sent a letter to the R.M. council registering to make a presentation at the next council meeting, May 21, 2019, at 7 p.m. If anyone is interested, meetings are held in the council chambers.