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City now on board for health unit facility

The regional board of health has approved a financial agreement for building new health facilities in Guelph and Orangeville, a joint deal that already got the nod from city council late last month.
The cost of the two new office buildings and clinical space isn’t expected to exceed $24.4 million, said a Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health news release.
The health unit will borrow $22 million of this from its three member municipalities “at a much lower interest rate than if the loan was through the financial sector,” the release said. The rest of the money is to come from the health unit and the province, it said.
The amount that each municipality is responsible for financing is proportional to their population, so city hall says Guelph will pay almost 46% of the cost.
The new agreement includes hiring an internal project manager who will work closely with two other project managers – one from the Ventin Group Ltd., which has won the contract for architectural and project consulting services, and one from Buttcon Ltd., the company overseeing construction of the two buildings.
The health unit, the city and the two counties are to get regular progress reports from the internal project manager, whose role is meant to provide more control against potential cost overruns, the city says.
At a council meeting late last month, Mayor Karen Farbridge described the new joint financial agreement as “a positive sign for our council.”
Elaborating on the matter on her city hall blog, the mayor wrote: “The joint financial agreement will help ensure that the project is well managed and kept within agreed costs. It is important for everyone to have the same understanding and shared expectations of the project.”
At the same meeting, council approved Farbridge’s return to the board of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, along with councillors June Hofland and Karl Wettstein.
Farbridge said she resigned from the health board two years ago because of its decision to place debt on the city’s financial statements to finance the two new facilities without the city’s consent. This decision put her in conflict with her role as mayor, she said.
While she still disagrees with the board’s decision, a judge’s ruling in 2011 “has made it clear that if we want to address this matter, we must pursue it with the province as it is the province’s legislation that permits the board to do this,” Farbridge said in her blog.
“Fortunately,” she continued, “there has been progress in fostering a more productive relationship with the board and our partner municipalities” – Wellington and Dufferin counties.
The joint financial agreement was negotiated between the city, the two counties and the public health unit. The city was the first of the four parties to approve it.
The new public health facility in Guelph will be located east of Stone Road Mall on land leased from the University of Guelph.

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