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Grey County asked to increase contribution to Markdale hospital build

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Grey County is being asked to increase its $1 million contribution to the Markdale hospital project by 15 per cent.

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Centre Grey Health Services Foundation officials made the request Thursday, shortly after the county delivered on its original pledge – made in 2005 – during a virtual cheque presentation at a committee of the whole meeting.

Foundation vice-chair Harvey Fraser said the organization still has to raise $2.7 million – through a Together in Care fundraising campaign – for the $69-million project, which is now under construction with occupancy expected in early 2023.

“We have come to you today to ask if you would consider increasing your original pledge by 15 per cent. This would mean an additional amount of $150,000. This is equivalent to one per cent per year since your original pledge, which may represent a small portion of the interest that would have been earned on your original pledge,” he told council.

He said the $150,000 could be paid over five years or on a schedule decided by the county.

Council voted to refer the request to its health care funding initiatives task force for consideration in the 2022 budget.

Southgate Deputy-mayor Brian Milne said he would be “very supportive” of the foundation’s request, noting some lower-tier municipalities have received similar appeals and have “responded positively.”

Southgate council, for example, voted earlier this month to pay its original $400,000 pledge this year and set aside another $30,000 in both 2022 and 2023 for the project. That $60,000 is equivalent to a 15 per cent increase.

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Grey Highlands was asked in May to increase its $1.2 million contribution by 15 per cent. Council directed staff to bring back a report on the request.

Fraser said the foundation has committed to raising $12.5 million for the Markdale hospital project.

It has collected $7.8 million so far, including through donations raised during its previous campaign to build the facility, which launched in 2002.

The amount collected includes Grey County’s $1 million commitment, which it fulfilled through a $780,000 cheque presented Thursday and a land donation, valued at $220,000, for the new hospital.

Fraser said $2 million has been committed by lower-tier municipalities.

“This leaves a gap of $2.7 million, which we are now campaigning to raise within our communities,” he said.

Council heard that $12 to $13 million in pledged had been committed during the previous Markdale hospital campaign, but Fraser said some donors decided to cancel pledges as the project dragged on and some people died before their commitments were met.

While the original fundraising campaign launched in 2002, it wasn’t until 2014 that then-Liberal health minister Eric Hoskins announced the province had approved its share of capital funding for the project. It would be another seven years before construction would begin in 2021.

Grey County pledged $1 million to the project in 2005 and set aside $100,000 annually to meet that commitment. The county planned to provide the funding once a building permit was issued.

Ninety per cent of the hospital’s construction costs are being covered by the province, with the remaining 10 per cent coming from the foundation.

Community donations, raised through the foundation, must also cover all of the costs for furniture, fixtures and equipment for the 68,000-square-foot hospital.

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