United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council is still carefully considering if it will financially support a proposed redevelopment project at the Centre d’Accueil Roger-Séguin (CARS) long-term care facility in Clarence Creek.

The not-for-profit facility has asked for $500,000 per year for 30 years from the UCPR to finance the redevelopment.

On May 26, UCPR council agreed to defer any decision on providing the financing until complete details can be obtained from CARS administration involving exact projected amounts for financing and project costs.

UCPR Chief Administrative Officer Stéphane Parisien said he and UCPR Treasurer Valérie Parisien had already held a series of discussions with CARS administration to get an idea of what their needs are.

Stéphane Parisien said the Séguin facility’s redevelopment project is unlikely to proceed unless it receives financial aid. He said one option is for the UCPR to acquire the facility. To discuss that option, CAO Parisien and Treasurer Parisien met with Andrew Rodrigues, Project Manager for Colliers on the new Prescott and Russell Residence project, to discuss the feasibility of the counties acquiring the Seguin facility.

“In the immediate future, it is not a good idea to make an acquisition of the centre,” said Stéphane Parisien.

He explained that the process is long and complicated and there would be additional costs.

Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins emphasized his strong support for providing the funding to the facility because of its role in serving residents in the western area of the UCPR and noted how many more tax dollars were already financing the new residence in Hawkesbury.

“It’s peanuts,” Desjardins commented on the amount requested. “I’d like my resolution for the $500,000 to carry forward to allow the project to continue.”

Desjardins also expressed concern about a loss of economic development in the area if the project is delayed.

Casselmen Mayor Daniel Lafleur agreed. “For us in the west, Roger-Séguin is important for our community,” he said.

“I support the proposal of Monsieur Desjardins,” said East Hawkesbury Mayor Robert Kirby.

La Nation Mayor François St-Amour also expressed his support due to the facility’s role in the western UCPR. He referred to a recent Financial Post article explaining that because of difficulties encountered at private long-term care facilities during the pandemic, not-for-profit facilities should receive more public funding.

Valérie Parisien said legal counsel should be consulted before any resolution is approved because of the level of financing involved to protect the UCPR from liabilities.

Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux recommended an exit clause be included in the agreement.

Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel asked if this financing would be above what the $250,000 UCPR contributes yearly to CARS. Valérie Parisien said it would be a doubling of the amount.

Hawkesbury Mayor Paula Assaly cautioned that a future council could decide to change its decision and then CARS would be left without financing after doing all of the planning.

Leroux wondered if there could instead be a contract for CARS to provide its services for the UCPR for 25 years instead of receiving financing.

“That’s more of a guarantee. The return is an investment.”

Stéphane Parisien said at this stage it is best to let legal experts and administration organize the details.

Valérie Parisien said any cost amounts should be clarified with CARS before a resolution is adopted and council unanimously agreed.