West Nipissing council approved a one-time $50,000 contribution toward the operation of the West Nipissing General Hospital’s new CT scanner, while also directing staff to inquire with the province about funding the operation of the machine in the future.
The hospital approached council last November proposing a $7.50 tax levy per household to fund the new machine. However, the Municipal Act doesn’t allow for a levy to be used for operational needs outside of the municipality’s own expenses.
During past discussions, Coun. Dan Roveda noted that other municipalities – like Elliot Lake who also purchased a CT scanner for St. Joseph’s General Hospital in 2020 – opted not to fund the operation of the machine, so as not to set a precedent that they would fund other operating budgets for community organizations. Instead, he said that burden should fall on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“I’m not against the CT scanner, I think it’s a good idea, it was a good initiative, they raised the money, they bought it; but I think this is a burden on our taxpayers,” said Roveda during the April 20 council meeting. “It’s another form of downloading on behalf of the province. We’re picking up something that we shouldn’t be paying for, because it’s an operations amount.”
Ultimately, it was decided that council would use funds from their reserves to provide $50,000 to the hospital for this year only, then request that the province cover the operation down the line.
Nature’s Trail bridge
Additional engineering fees for repairs to the Nature’s Trail bridge was approved by council, meaning the reconstruction project that has spent around five years in the works is on track to be completed later this fall.
Council passed a resolution to award $73,880 to EXP for design, environmental clearances and construction administration services. The firm will, among other things, seek to get variance from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to operate outside of the current in-water work window, after Wolseley Bay residents suggested summertime construction would be devastating to the tourism industry. If all goes according to schedule, the replacement of the bridge will begin in late September and construction will wrap up in late November.
The engineering fee was included in the $1.2 million set aside in this year’s budget for the repair. Previous council had also earmarked $400,000 for the project, so only the remainder had to be covered in this year’s budget deliberations.
In 2018, the bridge was deemed unsuitable for heavier loads and its maximum load was posted at five tonnes.