Open houses to talk about plans for possibly two new hospitals in Muskoka

Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — Anyone who thought it would be cheaper keeping two existing hospitals in Muskoka than one new one are in for a big surprise.

The existing hospital in Bracebridge could be replaced with a new building on a different site. Join the oonversation March 4-8.

Community members are being invited to six open houses March 4-8 to examine changes that could see two new hospitals some day.

The cost could easily top $100 million, if South Muskoka Memorial Hospital and Huntsville District Memorial Hospital are replaced.

But there are options — if the province follows through with its informal approval.

No official announcement has been made on the recommendation to keep SMMH and HDMH — and no financial commitment has even been talked about publicly.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), in a Bracebridge town release, says it is continuing with Stage 1 of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s (MOHLTC) capital planning process, and is encouraging the public to get involved and informed regarding the building design options under consideration for the hospital sites in Bracebridge and Huntsville.

Community Information Sessions are being held March 4 at the Sportsplex in Bracebridge at 7 pm.; March 5 at the Dwight Community Centre at 1 p.m.; March 5 at the Gravenhurst arena at 7 p.m.; March 6 at the Port Carling Community Centre at 7 p.m., March 7 the Huntsville Active Living Centre at 7 p.m. and March 8 at the Burk’s Falls arean at 4 p.m.

The open houses will allow stakeholders to have their say about the project.

For the South Muskoka site, three options are being contemplated: renovation and expansion of the existing building; a new replacement building on the existing site; and lastly a new building on a greenfield site due to existing land constraints.

The release says members of the public will be able to see high-level site plans and floor plans for each building option, and then share their feedback through hard copy and/or online survey following the sessions.

“Providing feedback is vital in helping the Capital Development Task Force make the best recommendation to the MAHC Board of Directors, and it is my hope that all people who wish to have a say in the future of health care in our community are able to attend,” said Mayor Graydon Smith in the release from his town.