MMA wants to see business plan before giving support in principle to Manor assisted living proposal

Manitoulin Centennial Manor

MINDEMOYA—Members of the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) have indicated they would like to see a business plan, including the proposed finances for an assisted living facility on property adjacent to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor, prior to giving its support to the Manor board to provide property for the project.

Dr. Roy Jeffery, a proponent for the plan, met with members of the MMA at a meeting last week. “I’m here  to answer questions you may have. As the representative for our non-profit group we came up with the idea for Manitoulin Island having an assisted living facility with 20 units,” he said. “We feel there is a gap on the Island for those who are living at home independently and then moving into the Manor or nursing home on the Island. We think there is a gap in these services being provided that could be met with an assisted living facility.”

Dr. Jeffery said “most of the Island municipal councils have indicated they are in favour in principle, although not all councils have responded as of yet. Some feel the project will be cumbersome for municipalities (financially).” He pointed out, however, “municipalities would not be responsible for these costs.”

“With the Manor in place, an assisted living facility might be a benefit to the Manor as they both provide similar services. It is hard to retain nurses and other professional staff and we feel there may be efficiencies found if the Manor provides some of these services (for the assisted living units),” said Dr. Jeffery. He further explained, “the Manor property is plenty big for this (assisted living) facility. You as municipalities are owners of the property as municipalities. The Manor board is asking your permission to allow us to develop and plan this project and to come up with funding options, a budget and then come back to you and see if it something you can live with and one that land can be provided.”

“One of the biggest things with this proposal is if we  have the value of the property to start it can help us to lever funding from various funding sources,” said Dr. Jeffery. “To have these units in place at a rental rate that Manitoulin seniors who have relatively small incomes is very important.”

“Will you be looking for funding from the municipalities other than the property being used?”asked Hugh Moggy.

“We don’t anticipate there will be,” said Dr. Jeffery. “We hope to tap into the LHINs (Local Health Integrated Network) for support. We think the LHINs will see this as a very worthwhile project,” said Dr. Jeffery.

Wayne Bailey said, “a study had been done (by KPMG) about four-five years ago that provided some conclusions that were frightening. It was explained in the study that at least 32 units would be needed to make it affordable and the rent would be $2,000 per month which would be a hefty amount for seniors on Manitoulin Island to have to pay each month; and that it would need $2.8 million in government operating grants.”

Dr. Jeffery noted the study referred to by Mr. Bailey was “for a study to have an addition to the Manor.  Adding to the Manor would be more expensive. We are looking at two 10-unit buildings, with the costs being about $1 million a building. We would be looking at various government sources for funding. He said this would provide “fairly reasonable rents at about $1,500 per unit per month.”

Mr. Bailey questioned if there would be liability to municipalities if the units were closed or the project basically went bankrupt.

“We wouldn’t go bankrupt. We would do this right and come back to you (municipalities) every stage of the process,” said Dr. Jeffery. “We will keep the municipalities and the Manor Board involved in every stage of the process,” said Dr. Jeffery.

“Did you look at the model for the extension to the Manor?” asked Richard Stephens, who noted that financing for that proposal was not provided at the time.

“The biggest drawback at the time was there wasn’t municipal support for the project, some municipalities were not comfortable with the proposal,” said Dr. Jeffery.

“I admire your enthusiasm for the project,” stated Pentti Palonen. “In the Manor’s 2016 budget it includes a subsidy from the municipalities of about $300,000 per year. For the assisted living facility the land value would (if given for assisted living) add another $100,000 on top of this. Why would he Manor board give away one of its biggest assets (the land)?” he questioned. “The board would be better off selling the additional property for this (assisted living) facility.”

“I look at it as what would the best use for the property be, other than assisted living, it is not like it would be sold to put in a high-rise,” said Dr. Jeffery. “Having an assisted living facility adjacent to the Manor might help improve the Manor bottom line because staff who can’t be retained full-time can work in the assisted living units. The Manor would be in a position it could be paid for services that its staff provides for assisted living. Manor would be in a position to be paid for services that are provided, paid by LHINs or tenants.”

“The Manor is in deficit well over $300,000 now being provided by local municipalities. So how could it provide services to you and make money?”asked Mr. Palonen.

“Before the (Manor) board were to look at sketches or drawings for the project, or a business plan, if the municipalities are not interested in principle, why would the project go any further?” questioned Al MacNevin. “There needs to be support in principle for the idea first, no one wants to spend money on architects.”

“Do you have some sense that government funding will be coming forward?” asked Pat MacDonald. “Our municipality is very interested in assisted living; I asked the question at the FONOM conference, and there was no clear guarantee funding will be available.”

However, Dr. Jeffery pointed out there are a lot of municipalities proceeding ahead with similar projects. “If we can’t find funding sources the project would probably not be going forward anyway,” he said. Dr. Jeffery noted that Central Manitoulin passed a motion that they would give support in principle to the project, contingent on a business plan and capital-operating plans being provided being provided to the municipalities prior to going forward. “We don’t expect anyone to sign on until a business plan and financial plan is in place,” he said, “but there is no use starting unless we know we have a possible place to build.”

Dr. Jeffery further explained he would be meeting the North East LHIN to gain an idea of their interest in the project.

“Considering the Manor is losing $300,000 a year would a prudent person give away a big portion of its assets?”asked Mr. Palonen. “It would be better to sell the additional property for $100,000 and put this back in the Manor coffers.”

Tom Imrie a member of the board said, “the board is still looking at how the land could be used, for instance leasing it. The point of this exercise is to find out if municipalities are interested in the idea of developing assisted living and then go forward with the business plan and looking at funding sources.”