Town kicks in extra $2 million for wellness centre
Town of St. Paul council agreed at its May 14 regular meeting to fill the $2 million shortfall to build the new Wellness Centre, ensuring the project stays on track.
Town council and its CAO had talked about the worst-case scenario of the province and the county not helping to fill the gap in building the $7 million facility, “and we’re living it,” said Mayor Glenn Andersen. But he noted that the town had planned for that worst case scenario, and would not have to increase taxes or take out a debenture to fill the shortfall.
“We will own it, we will run it,” he said of the wellness centre.
Originally, the County of St. Paul and the Town of St. Paul had each contributed $1 million to the project, with $2.5 million dedicated from the province and a $500,000 donation of land and services made by the developer. However, that had still left a gap of $2 million to fill.
The Town and County of St. Paul had a joint meeting on the new wellness centre on May 10, at which point County of St. Paul representatives indicated the county would stick to its original contribution of $1 million instead of contributing more to the shortfall.
County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham said that a couple of months ago, county representatives indicated that one of their “drop-dead clauses” on contributing more money to the medical centre would be having third-party management of the centre.
He felt that the wellness centre should operate with the same model that the M.D. of St. Paul Foundation has used to deliver seniors’ housing in the community. The County and Town of St. Paul and the Town of Elk Point all sit on the board of directors for the foundation, and the M.D.’s chief administrative officer deals with the management of the facilities. If there’s any shortfall in operations, the foundation can requisition the municipalities.
“We just thought that business model should be used for the wellness centre,” said Upham. “The town didn’t share that belief with us.” The county decided to stick to its original contribution and allow the town to manage the facility as it saw fit, he said. “We wish the town all the best . . . we think it’s a great project.”
The Town’s total $3 million contribution to the wellness centre will come from its 2012 and 2013 MSI Grant, at about $1.5 million, with the other $1.5 million coming from its 2012 reserves.
Boisvert said he and the mayor would continue to pursue the provincial government for additional funding. There will also be a foundation formed for the wellness centre, so that corporations and individuals could make donations in return for tax receipts issued by the town.
In an interview following the meeting, Andersen said that the money allocated was done as “part of our strategic planning sessions,” with an attitude of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. “People tend to look at the price tag,” he said, adding that the money is not as important as what the facility will contribute to St. Paul. A hearing aid service has already called, expressing interest in locating in the wellness centre. “The word is out there and they’re contacting us because they want to be in here.”
Andersen was optimistic that doctors could move into the facility by August and he was eager to see its doors open to the public. “When it does open, people will realize it’s well worthwhile.”
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