This is a look at where the new Dundas Manor will be. Courtesy Photo

WINCHESTER – It has been a little more than two years since Dundas Manor received word that its redevelopment plan had been approved.

“Bring on the bulldozers!” said then board chair Bill Smirle in a press release in 2020. “This has been a long process and there is still much more to do. But today, we celebrate,” he said when news of the approval on March 20, 2020.

Since then, there has been a pandemic, a provincial election and all kinds of changes and challenges in just about every rural village in North Dundas.

But the redevelopment project organizers still expect to put shovels in the ground in 2023 to begin the transformation of Dundas Manor.

Dundas Manor reaffirmed its plan to keep moving forward with its redevelopment.

Lisa Little, the chair of the Dundas Manor board of directors said despite the pandemic and the election, Dundas Manor redevelopment has not missed a step.

She said, “It’s still a go. We are just working through the process with government.”

Donations big and small from residents have been coming in and fundraisers are also asking larger corporations if they can help as well.

The drive to raise what’s needed for the new Dundas Manor has not stopped.

“People are still donating unsolicited everyday,” she said. “This is totally important to the community,” she said.

The new facility will have a positive impact on the community in terms of providing more care spaces but also more employment for the facilities’ staff.

“You want to have a healthy and safe working environment, and you want the residents to live in a safe, respectful environment, so we are still working at it,” said Little.

A late August 2022, press release stated: “Construction on the new Dundas Manor is expected to begin next year. It will take about two years to complete the new building. We want to thank everyone who is helping to make this dream a reality.”

The Winchester District Memorial Hospital has partnered with Dundas Manor to secure the project. Hospital CEO Cholly Boland said, “We’ve been out and about, talking about Dundas Manor and the need to build a new home for our residents and community. We’ve also been working closely with the government, asking for more funding support due to the rising construction costs.”

Boland pointed out that the redevelopment project was not at a standstill and was not being called off.

Kristen Casselman, managing director of the WDMH Foundation said, “The Foundation staff and a small but mighty group of volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes. So far, we’ve been meeting with those who we feel are interested in long-term care and may be interested in making a significant financial investment. The response has been very positive. This important fundraising work will continue until the needed funds are raised.”

North Dundas mayor Tony Fraser said, “There is no doubt that the need is there.”

He said it was an understatement to simply say that more beds are needed.

“The provincial government really needs to step up their game and help the non-profit nursing homes.”

Fraser said the challenge has been increased because of the increased costs in materials associated with pandemic and supply chain issues.

The past chair of the Dundas Manor board said, “I think we are progressing and progressing reasonably well.”

Smirle said the new SD&G member of provincial parliament; Nolan Quinn and CEO Bollard have been working together to encourage the province to do something about helping with the cost of the project.

“Everyone agrees that the need is great, and they are just looking for a way to get the final dollars through to make it work well,” said Smirle.

Dundas Manor opened its doors on April 5, 1978, with 60 beds. Over the years three additions have brought the home up to 98 beds.

On April 28, 2015, Dundas Manor applied to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for approval to build a new home. Five years later in 2020 they got it.

A press release at the time from redevelopment organizers stated: “The new Dundas Manor will transform the look and feel of the residence to create a truly home-like environment where we can also welcome thirty additional residents. The new home will improve quality of life with more accessible space, more efficient preparation areas, wider halls, and larger windows. Outdated four-bed units will change to two residents per room. As well, the new home will address the need for greater individualized and resident-directed care.”

The current estimated cost for a new and improved Dundas Manor is in the neigbourhood of $60 million, and likely to go up each day until construction begins.

The cost is shared by the provincial government and the community. The community that any long-term care home is located, is expected to raise a share of its cost as well. In the case of Dundas Manor, around $20 million is the amount fundraisers are aiming for.

Despite how challenging it is to raise that much money in a rural setting, Dundas Manor fundraising organizers are determined to raise their share. To date more than $10 million has been raised with the promise of more to come.

All long-term care homes in Ontario are being confronted with newer design standards by 2025 if they want to keep their licences. The province pays most of the cost of construction, but homes are required to raise a significant amount locally.

If you are interested in learning more about the new Dundas Manor, but you have not been contacted please contact Kristen Casselman at 613-774-2422 ext. 6169.