The wait is over. The new Prescott-Russell Residence is staying put in Hawkesbury.
“This signifies the start of the official process of reconstruction,” said United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) CAO Stéphane Parisien at its latest council meeting.
The UCPR had originally identified three possible sites for the new construction, two in Hawkesbury and one in Champlain. Parisien said the property located between the Hawkesbury Fire Hall and Lou-Tec on Spence Avenue was “number one” in fulfilling the requirements for reconstruction. Now that the UCPR have identified a site, it can go ahead with its application of a $250,000 planning grant from the province.
The property’s former owner was Normand Ravary, the builder behind McGill Manor across town. A transmission tower stands in the far end, which will be severed from the property. The two and a half hectares cost the UCPR $1.35 million.
During the council meeting, Julie Ménard-Brault, the UCPR’s treasurer, recommended using money from the $4.5 million residence reserve to acquire the property. This money is also available for the construction and other capital expenses.
Staying in Hawkesbury
Asked why the new residence will be staying in the eastern part of Prescott-Russell, Parisien said it’s not simply about “giving” the residence to the town.
“There’s need in Hawkesbury for (these beds).”
Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois added another reason: “It’s the hospital.”
“The people in the home,” she said, “it’s almost palliative care. You’ve got some of the sickest people in our counties and for them to be almost adjacent to the hospital, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.”
Final plans are far from finished so don’t start lining up just yet. Parisien said the new building is still three to five years off. One of the determining factors for its size is the number of beds. The UCPR recently applied for an extra 78 beds.
Operational review approved
Those 78 beds will also be a factor when Extendicare begins its operational review of the current residence.
Originally, the UCPR budgeted $40,000 for the review, but approved the $107,000 contract during the meeting.
While Parisien said a possible review has been dragging on for years, this latest push was really prompted by Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins’ consistent criticism of the residence’s high costs.
Parisien couldn’t say when the review would begin but expected it wouldn’t be a short process.
“We were talking of job shadowing so we’ll have to tell our staff people will be on-site and we’ll have to respect our residents’ privacy,” he said.
“It’s difficult for me to ask for this (review),” he added, “because if council is calling for a review, there’s a certain lack of confidence in the sense we think it could be better… I prefer to see it as a tool.”
Soon after council agreed to the contract, Charlebois said it still had confidence in residence staff.
Asked if there’s an inherent critique by ordering the review, she said, “It might put to bed some of the comments that have been made in the past.”