County council hears plans for a new Golden Plough Lodge

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland County council was so impressed by up-to-date plans on how the rebuilt Golden Plough Lodge is shaping up that Trent Hills Mayor Robert Crate asked to put his name in for one of the rooms.

Chief administrative officer Jennifer Moore was so anxious to convey compete details about the plans that she arranged for enlarged charts of the lay-outs of the grounds and the different floors to be set up in a meeting room adjacent to council chambers. Also in the adjacent room, tape on the carpet set out the exact dimensions and fixtures of one of the private rooms so that councillors could get an idea of some of its amenities – larger-than-required dimensions, for example, and a large window with window seat in every resident space.

Moore reminded councillors at the February meeting of how the current Golden Plough Lodge facility has been around for so many decades that it is nearing the end of its useful life. It began as another municipal facility entirely, and became a home for the aged in the 1950s. Since then, it has gone through many renovations and expansions, the most recent in the 1990s.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has given the county a mandate to build a new facility by 2025 for a county where 26% of the population is older than 65 and the level care for its residents has gone up drastically in recent years.

Moore also took a moment to review some history of the county archives, since that facility will also be housed in a 5,000-sq.-ft. space on the ground floor of the new Golden Plough Lodge.

Management of the Cobourg and District Historical Society became the county's responsibility in 2012, after which its mandate expanded to serve the entire county. It now operates out of space at the Cobourg Public Library as a public research facility and official repository for member municipalities.

The new location will allow expanded programming, more exhibition and display space, opportunities for social engagement and improved archival facilities, Moore listed.

The new Plough will be constructed on county-owned lands just to the west of the current site, she said. It will grow from a 151-bed facility to a 180-bed one that can be occupied before the end of 2022.

Salter Pilon Architecture prinicipal Gerry Pilon listed the project's three phases: construction of the new facility, demolition of the old one and rehabilitation of the site where the old one stood into park space (and the reconfiguration of Courthouse Road to best serve the new arrangement).

The new facility will be a three-storey 199,500-sq.-ft. structure. Its beds will be arranged in six groupings known as resident home areas or RHAs, all grouped around internal courtyards for optimal amounts of natural lighting. Typically, an RHA will have 18 basic (shared entry, shared bathroom), eight semi-private (separate entries, shared bathroom) and six private (private entry, private bathroom) rooms – 32 residents in all. Each will have a shadowbox at the front door for residents to personalize.

The vision is a facility that exceeds standards, brings pride to the community, is an architectural asset with energy-efficient and sustainable design, and boasts an inviting and functional interior design, Pilon listed.

Each floor will have a family dining room and fireside lounge to make the most of visits, instead of cramming chairs into a small room, and room layouts are designed to encourage mingling of residents and staff members. Grouping rooms around the courtyard means a continuous loop around for walking, and no dead-end corridors.

As well as the archives, Level 1 will feature an RHA designed for residents needing intensive care. It will also have a reception area, administrative offices, chapel, auditorium, tuck shop, library, hairdresser and clinical facilities

Instead of a courtyard, rooms on Level 2 will have access to terraces. Those on Level 3 will have access to an outdoor garden deck.

There is also a Level 0, with staff change rooms and lunch room plus utility functions like laundry service and receiving facilities.

Senior project engineer Kaela Esseghaier of the county's transportation, waste and facilities department said construction should take about 105 weeks, and the total project cost is estimated at $104-million. A web site and e-mail address has been created for this project, and town-hall meetings with Plough residents' family members and friends will continue.