Once again, Port Hope has a cause to gather round. At Tuesday night's Committee of the Whole, there were three delegations present to present their sides of the discussion about the future of the old hospital at 65 Ward Street.
The discussion has arisen due to Southbridge Care Homes Inc desire to redevelop the 2.86 acre parcel of land bounded by Ward Street, Princess Street, Hope Street and a southern boundary.
The site currently contains the second hospital on the site at 65 Ward Street, the original hospital know now as the administration house, and the Power House structure, as well as the Hope Street Terrace (formerly known as the Community Nursing Home Port Hope) – a 97 bed facility.
Southbridge would like to redevelop this site into a 160 bed facility with local amenities built into the project so that residents can have access to them without having to leave this new facility.
The discussion centered around the fact that the ACO and Heritage Port Hope want to designate 65 Ward St in particular and the site in general as a cultural and heritage site. By so doing, the buildings would be preserved while leaving open the option to redevelop using the existing facade and completely renovating the interior.
The problem, however, according to Keith McIntosh, the president and CEO of Southbridge, is the requirements of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care could not be met without most of the current building at 65 Ward St being demolished.
The ACO presenters – Julie Mavis and Bruce Bowden – and Heritage Port Hope presenter Phil Carter all suggested that the building could be completely renovated to meet the requirements without any demolition.
However, it is unclear as to whether this can be accomplished since the building has been vacant now for almost 12 years and is considered by Port Hope Fire and Emergency Services to be unsafe and can only be entered by authority of the service and the building owners, which led to many questions by Council concerning the viability of the structure and why has this threat of demolition suddenly caused all this concern when the building has been vacant and deteriorating over the intervening 12 years.
Council wants more information in order to make its decision and as a result, referred the question to staff to coordinate a meeting with Southbridge, ACO, Heritage Port Hope, Planning Department staff, and any other interested parties, with the meeting to take place this week and the results brought back to a Special Council meeting early next week, so that a decision can be made and Southbridge advised of the decision so that they can meet a Ministry deadline for funding for the project which was due this week but which Southbridge might get an extension of the deadline.
There will be more to come on this issue as this week moves forward.