Jubilation and applause greet groundbreaking

By Cecilia Nasmith

Jubilation and applause rocked the tent in the Ontario Street field, just north of Cobourg, as dozens of supporters and key figures gathered to break ground for what – an estimated 12 months from now – will be the Northumberland Hospice Care Centre.

Or Ed's House, as it will be known in honour of Ed Lorenz – who, with wife Diane, gave the biggest single donation to date, eclipsing even the $1.2-million in capital funding from the province with his gift of $1.5-million.

It's a very warm and welcoming name, commented Alderville First Nation representative Julie Bothwell, who also commended the campaign slogan Honouring The Journey. Hospice care comes at the end of what she referred to as the circular journey of life.

While Community Care Northumberland has been delivering hospice services since 2010, board chair Ray Lobban said, In the fall of 2016, Stewart Richardson approached Community Care board member Selena Forsyth about the hospice of a residential facility. The idea was taken to the board and was well received,

“They felt strongly there was an urgent need for a residential hospice, and they were willing to work tirelessly to make it happen,” Lobban reported.

“The decision to move forward was not made lightly, since owning and operating a multi-million-dollar building was a change from our business model and would require significant support from the community.”

At about the same time, the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care called for expressions of interest for hospice projects.

Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini acknowledged the contribution of his predecessor Lou Rinaldi in helping to get the project started. At the same time, his government has confirmed continuing operational funding for the finished facility of $600,000 annually.

“The first few months I was in office, rarely a day went by someone didn't come up and talk about hospice,” Piccini recalled.

“It has been such an honour to be part of this.”

“Ed's House – what an amazing, amazing project this has been!” Hamilton Township Mayor Bill Cane said.

Cane said he was heartened to see the partnership between the previous and current Ontario governments in the interest of something greater - “I think that shows the power if Ed's House,” the mayor said.

As well, he added, many of the county's municipalities have created their own five-year plans to make a contribution. And Cobourg, which made a $60,00 donation this week, is to be commended for extending its municipal water system into Hamilton Township to service Ed's House.

That kind of co-operation is a continuing theme he has seen, said Gord Ley (who co-chaired the capital campaign with his wife Patti – from the many individual donors to the provincial government. The result, he predicted, will be the finest hospice in the province, if not in the country.

Richardson, who was building-committee chair of the project begun 30 months ago, was grateful as well as exuberant.

“There's no substitute for hard work, but I think all of us would agree we have been blessed with a lot of good luck,” he allowed.

The courage of the Community Care board in agreeing to own the project was followed in short order by the province's call for expressions of interest. Then the campaign and building committees were fortunate to recruit a talented and dedicated complement of volunteers, and engaging the architectural firm of Barry Bryan and Associates was also a smart move.

The building committee toured 12 hospices in order to bring back the best design practices possible, he noted, and researched fully 30 sites before settling on the 1.5-acre Hamilton Township parcel. Community Care purchased it from Behan Construction, and it will soon be home to an 18,000-sq.-ft. facility providing compassionate round-the-clock end-of-life care at no cost to those receiving this service. It's a 10-bed facility that will open with six beds operational and four ready to go at some future time.

“Our nurses' stations and those suites, we believe, will be the best designed and most comfortable in the province,” Richardson said.

“We have worked hard to ensure patients and families will be provided with nothing but the best top-quality amenities.”

As well, Community Care's hospice services will move to be headquartered at the facility, creating a true hospice hub for the community.

“This is a perfect example of what you can achieve with teamwork,” he said.

“It has been a real eye-opener for me to see how these thing can be achieved and what a wonderful area we live in.”

The groundbreaking was the occasion for announcing the architectural firm that won the bidding for this $8-million project. Dalren Limited is a Cobourg general contractor employing more than 40 local trades people, who can boast a solid reputation for commitment to well-managed quality projects.

Dalren representative Matt James made a presentation that showed that the facility will benefit more than just those people in the community who rely on hospice services, referring to the suppliers and employers who will be contributing to the project's success.

Twenty to 30 local tradespeople will be directly employed on-site, with work opportunities for at least 30 subtrade businesses such a dry-wallers, plumbers and electricians.

James mentioned opportunities for local suppliers and the sales that will be generated of lumber, concrete and other materials.

Then there will be training opportunities for apprentices that will contribute to their education and help to secure their futures as well.

“It will encourage young people that there's a future in the trades in Northumberland County,” James said.

“The majority of the money spent on this project will stay within our local community and support local families and businesses.”