Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Grey Gables to be put up for sale!

Grey Gables to be put up for sale.

“Shame on all of you.”

That was the consensus opinion of most of the 100 or so spectators who crammed themselves into an overflowing Grey County council chamber Thursday morning as the acrimonious debate over the future of Grey Gables and Rockwood Terrace long term care facilities was voted on.

Many of the people in attendance were appalled by the decision, including the unidentified spectator telling council members they should be ashamed of themselves.

After three deputations and much internal debate, the council member decided on a split vote to put Grey Gables in Markdale up for sale and proceed with moving its 66 beds to a consolidated Rockwood Terrace in Durham.

A staff report and its supporters amongst the council members argued the move made fiscal and cost-saving sense, with opponents said it would make life more difficult for people who live in the eastern parts of the county in The Blue Mountains, Grey Highlands and Meaford.

Former Grey County Warden and Blue Mountains Mayor Rod Knott criticized the move. He said a long-term care centre in Markdale was originally set up because it was “the geographic” centre of the county, convenient to all residents.

“This will disenfranchise the eastern part of the county, and will concentrate everything in the west,” he said. “It will drive a wedge through the centre of Grey County, and will have detrimental effects for years.”

Knott added the move will mean people wanting to visit their relatives in the county long-term care homes will have to drive to Durham, making it a one-hour drive one way. That will place a hardship on families, he said.

“It sucks,” Blue Mountains Deputy-mayor Gail Ardiel said after the meeting broke for lunch. “It’s not fair, and once again, we’re getting nothing, and this time it’s including Grey Highlands and Meaford too.”

Ardiel noted the divisions the decision caused. Meaford representatives, she noted, split their vote on the issue.

Blue Mountains Mayor John McKean opposed the move as well, saying the county would have to obtain at least $15 million for Grey Gables to avoid losing money on the deal.

“We’d be giving it away otherwise,” he said.

The support to close and sell off Grey Gables came primarily from the western municipalities, such as Owen Sound, Hanover, West Grey and Georgian Bluffs.

The decision came in a committee of the whole session, and will need to be ratified at a full council meeting.

“Construction of the new home is years away,” the county stated in a follow-up release. “All plans must be approved by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and a new site for the building needs to be found. Once plans are approved, Grey County will issue a public request for proposal to find an architect and later a public tender will be issued to find a builder.”