Hudson’s big-hearted ratepayers will be on the hook for the proposed low-cost senior’s residence on Wyman Memorial United’s parking lot. All that’s missing is the size of the financial hit.
This afternoon I drove up there and had a good look around to get a feel for what it would be like to live in an apartment block next to public works. It’s not a bad location, especially if you’re not particularly mobile. You’re close to everything. Apart from the brisk hike up from Main Road and the absence of traffic access via Park. Or underground parking.
The folks in Stephenson Court and neighbours on Hazelwood and Park may have something to say when it comes time for a zoning change. You may recall how vocal they were when the Elliott administration opted to plunk the new firehall up there and pushed the public works yard to the edge of the setback, cutting the green screen in the process.
What concerns me is the vagueness in the costing of this administration’s latest warm and fuzzy pet project.
Projected cost: $3.4-$4.5 million (50% from the Société d’habitation du Québec, 15% from Hudson taxpayers, 2% from Novoclimat and the remaining third from a guaranteed mortgage. If the estimate is correct (in Quebec, there is good reason to be skeptical of projected construction costs) Hudson’s fantastically philanthropic citizens would be on the hook for anywhere between half a million and $675,000. The other night, councillor Nicole Durand inferred all that would be coming back to the town from other agencies. Citizens would be wise to ask for that in writing from the funding agencies, rather than from those with skin in the game.
Which brings us to operating costs. It’s unclear what services are provided with the basic rents ($556 to $802). A kitchen and dining room will serve three meals daily but we all have different needs as we age, so one can assume nursing, medications and housekeeping will be extras. We’re told the town will assume responsibility for 10 per cent of the operating costs, which will be rebated to us by the Montreal Metropolitan Community. As with construction costs, let’s see all that in writing from the CMM – but not before ratepayers have a hard number representing annual operating costs.
The regional palliative care residence is a handy yardstick. Quebec pays roughly a third of the annual operating costs, approximately $2 million. The rest is up to the generosity of the region’s municipalities, businesses and institutions. Why would the financial model for a subsidized senior’s residence be more generous?
Instead of telling people it’s for a good cause and weaselling the numbers, be honest. Tell them what it’ll cost them and why they should support it. Nobody can forget how Hudson zoned a sizeable parcel of land and paid for a sewer hookup for the construction of a continuing-care senior’s campus. The project was put out of reach due to an unfortunate combination of malfeasance and ineptitude, a recurring theme in this town’s development history. That said, R-55 remains zoned for a senior’s residence. If this administration is that hooked on a senior’s residence next to the public works yard, then rezone R-55 back to single-family residential and hope the tax revenues from the abandoned seniors project will defray the annual costs of this latest pipe dream.
Footnote: As with all zoning and borrowing bylaws, this is subject to referendum. I hope this administration will see fit to post this and all decisions before it’s too late to do anything.