Province could kick in $20 million for Muskoka Centre arts school in Gravenhurst
GRAVENHURST — The province could spend up to $20 million to build the old Muskoka Centre into a multi-use educational and arts facility.
A consultant’s report this April is expected to recommend a number of related uses for the prime 70-acre piece of property, with the belief that Infrastructure Ontario has the budget and would be the lead developer.
The project most likely would be a public-private partnership.
And it would be undertaken over a number of years.
The first move would be removal of any unnecessary buildings on site; or the restoration of any of them that could be saved.
The mental health facility closed in 1994 – and is not currently for sale.
A group of local stakeholders is helping consult on the report.
But first the report would have to go to Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal cabinet for approval. And with an Ontario election widely expected this spring, a related announcement during the campaign could help her party’s forturnes in an uphill fight against sitting Tory and longtime MPP Norm Miller.
The government, which owns the former mental health facility remains cautious after an attempt years ago to sell it went sour when the buyer was accused of a bait and switch, saying it would be a private school and later opting for housing.
The $2.5 million sale was eventually rescinded by the province after loud complaints from cottagers.
Over the years, various government ministries have offered the site, but none were interested in moving staff and infrastructure to it; or didn’t have the budgets to take it on.
But, according to sources, Infrastructure Ontario has the money and mandate to undertake such a joint community project.
The province came close to changing its use shortly after it closed, when the OPP canine training centre was scheduled. But a change of government halted that. Today, the OPP have a small dog-training centre on adjacent property, with officers having access to the OntarioFireCollege next door for meals, while their main centre is in Orillia next to the OPP headquarters built in the late 1990s.
Infrastructure Ontario is conducting an Opportunities Assessment and Optimal Use Study for the Muskoka Regional Centre property and has hired an consulting team lead by MHBC Planning to undertake the Assessment and Study.
They had the last public consultation session on July 27.
- The purpose of the study is to determine potential land use options for the property that will result in economic benefit to the Town of Gravenhurst and the Province of Ontario. The land use options must also create employment.
- Options for the future use of the former Muskoka Regional Centre are being considered. The Town of Gravenhurst, residents and other stakeholders are being consulted to ensure the redevelopment is consistent with the community’s priorities.
- Outreach and consultation with the Town of Gravenhurst, residents and other stakeholders is an important component of the study. The consultant will incorporate feedback prior to making recommendations.
- The property is not currently for sale and future decisions to market it would require direction from the Ontario government.
For more information go to http://www.gravenhurst.ca/en/ourcommunity/muskokaregionalcentre.asp
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