Coboconk’s Summit Wellness Centre looking to start construction in spring

By Kirk Winter

An artistic rendition of the new wellness centre.

Ian Forster and Jennifer Wilson of the Coboconk, Norland and Area Chamber of Commerce provided an update on the $16 million Summit Wellness Centre to be built on the Legion Park site in Coboconk at the latest city council meeting.

The combination medical centre and community hub has been in the planning stages for the past three years and appears to be trending towards some work beginning this upcoming building season.

Wilson described the centre as a collaborative project between the city, the chamber of commerce and local community members.

“We are extremely appreciative of council’s partnership,” Wilson said, “that will provide much needed health and wellness services and a community gathering space that will positively impact the economy of the area in the coming years. The community is really excited to see this project completed.”

Wilson took some time in her deputation to walk the new council through where the project currently stands regarding design/construction, the expected costs and the funding they currently have in place to pay for the building.

Wilson told council that as soon as the final approval is received from the city, they could begin site and foundation work. She also said that the timing of that final approval is crucial “because there is a lot of dirt to move” and “we do not want to miss the upcoming construction season.”

Costing for the project was broken down into three multi-million dollar envelopes. Construction of the base building  with a shell, HVAC, electrical, fixtures and consultant fees will cost $11.5 million. The group has built in a $2 million contingency fund to deal with any surprises they could not predict with the project and another $2.5 million will be dedicated to site work and site preparation.

“We take it as a given,” Wilson said, “that we want to minimize the use of the contingency fund and to find savings at every turn possible.”

 Money for the wellness centre will come from a multitude of sources including the municipality which will be contributing $10 million, the Ministry of Health, work in kind done by the Ministry of Transportation to allow easy access and egress from the parking lot and over a million dollars raised from the community.

“Community fundraising was a real eye-opener for us,” Wilson said. “We had no idea at the beginning of the campaign how long it would take us to raise a million dollars given the small communities in our area. We were shocked to reach our goal in less than one year.”

Wilson said that 15,000 individual donations had been made with money coming from Coboconk, Norland, Kirkfield, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay and further afield.

“The donations were a clear signal that the services to be offered are much needed,” Wilson said. “We believe there will be more people who want to help and we believe once the construction begins those folks will jump on board.”

Wilson also promised council that the group building the wellness centre will continue to search for other grant opportunities at the federal and provincial level to compliment and/or offset the $10 million provided by the municipality.

At the conclusion of the deputation, Mayor Doug Elmslie called the wellness centre a “great project” encouraging all involved “to get this project built so everyone can start using it.”

Councillor Emmett Yeo, who represents the ward in which the centre will be built, asked Forster to expand on who has been interested in partnering in the construction and use of the building.

“The Kawartha North Family Health Team, the local food bank, the pharmacy in Coboconk and community groups have all been very interested in the project and have offered to be involved,” Forster said. “We are exploring partnerships with Ross Memorial Hospital, Community Care (and existing health care professionals in Coboconk and area). We aren’t closing the door to anyone.”

Yeo told council that “doctors have been calling him at home, or at least people who call themselves doctors, looking at and wanting to know more about the facility.”

From what both Wilson and Forster said, a successful 2023 construction season will include moving the existing train station building off its foundations and its movement to a place where it will be out of the way of construction, the lot being levelled and prepared and foundation work begun.

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