By DAVID JUDD
County council wants more information about a proposal to build a new medical centre on county-owned land in Port Dover next year.
The county has been asked to lease a former ball diamond near the Port Dover arena as the site for the nearly $3-million project.
And the county has been asked to give $50,000 a year for five years, starting in 2014.
Initial information presented to county council on Dec. 3 lacking a business plan was “a little thin,” County Treasurer John Ford told councillors at their last meeting of 2013 on December 10.
Because more information is needed, the county’s senior leadership team, consisting of Mayor Dennis Travale, the county manager and department heads, has suggested holding off looking at a grant for the project until 2015, Mr. Ford said.
Despite this reaction, Les Anderson of Simcoe, who is spearheading the medical centre proposal, remained confident that the facility would open in late 2014.
The project does not depend on receiving a county grant, Mr. Anderson told The Maple Leaf.
He added: “We are committed to make the project go ahead.”
Mr. Anderson said it would be nice if the county considered a grant and approved it as part of its 2014 budget to be discussed in mid-January.
A grant would make the project move along quicker, he said.
For example, the county’s $50,000 could help pay for project drawings.
Mr. Anderson said members of the non-profit facility’s proposed board of directors would update county councillors on the project’s progress during January’s 2014 budget deliberations.
The project is lining up directors and hopes to incorporate as a non-profit corporation before the county’s budget is set.
Mr. Anderson said it could take up to a year to obtain charitable status to issue tax receipts for donations.
Although fundraising would help pay off a mortgage faster, the project would not rely on fundraising, Mr. Anderson said.
Nor does the project rely on doctors committing now to practise in the new facility.
“A lot of it is build it and they will come,” Mr. Anderson said.
The group wants to start early next year getting the word out with literature, drawings and sketches that Port Dover will have a new place to practise.
“Maybe some doctors will come back to Port Dover,” Mr. Anderson said.
The town currently has three doctors but should have seven or eight doctors to serve its population.
The proposed medical centre would have room for six to eight doctors with room to expand.
While unnamed investors have committed financing, county council needs to provide the site through a lease, possibly with an option to buy.
“I would be very surprised if this council or the one elected next year doesn’t support the new medical centre,” Port Dover Coun. John Wells said in an interview.
“As long as they’ve got the money and a business plan, I am as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow that this will be a go.”
A business plan is key to gaining money from council, Coun. Wells said. As for negotiating a lease with the county, “I don’t see any roadblocks,” Coun. Wells said before cautioning, “The devil is in the details.”
Coun. Wells said county council supported 100 per cent the efforts of Port Dover Lions and Health Care Initiative volunteers to bring Port Dover a new medical centre.
The Lions and Health Care Initiative were unsuccessful.
But council knows there is a need for a new medical centre, Coun. Wells said.
It has granted Delhi’s medical centre $300,000 over the years to get started and to expand, and council is about to consider another $250,000 over five years for further expansion.
Coun. Wells said he was excited after hearing Mr. Anderson’s proposal and even more excited now.
“What a wonderful Christmas present for the community of Port Dover and Norfolk County,” he said.