This is the sixth in a series of blogs throughout September and October!
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Setting the Record Straight on Belvedere Heights
In my travels around town I still get comments regarding the state of Belvedere Heights such as, "I hear Belvedere is shutting down", or "The hospital is taking over Belvedere". I would like to take this opportunity to explain what is really in the plans and set the public at ease over a number of rumours circulating.

Belvedere Heights is NOT shutting down. Belvedere Heights is NOT being taken over by the West Parry Sound Health Centre. Belvedere Heights is NOT kicking out Life Lease dwellers. Belvedere Heights is NOT being converted to condominiums.

I know this as I have served on the Belvedere Board of Management since October of 2015 although my term on the Board is coming to an end. So, what led to these rumours? Out of the vision and plans the Belvedere Board of Management had regarding its inclusion in a "Campus of Care" model, particular media reporting, in my opinion, confused the people.

The real story is that Belvedere Heights Long-term Care has outgrown its home on the hill. There is no room for expansion. Additional beds and enhancements to meet provincial compliance and standards are required. The Belvedere Heights Board of Management, the Lakeland Long-term Care Board of Directors and the West Parry Sound Health Centre Board of Directors are working collectively on a "Campus of Care" model to be developed on the hospital property. At some point in the future, likely closer to ten years, it is hoped that Belvedere will be relocated in brand new quarters on the Health Centre site. The objective is to provide health care, long-term care and related services all on one site under one administration. It is my hope and intention to see that the 'Belvedere brand' be protected and preserved, while integrated into this model. Since 1965 Belvedere Heights has been the home for those in need, and the recipient of generous donations and countless thousands of hours of volunteer time and effort.

There are many steps or prerequisites to manage before all this can happen. One such step is the consideration of what to do with the Life Lease units. The Belvedere Board has decided to make attempts to buy back the units as they become available. As each is acquired the units will be made available for rent under the auspices of the Landlord Tenant Act of Ontario. The process of renting these units will respect the Life Lease original model of providing an independent lifestyle for senior citizens aged 55 and over.

Following ministry approval, the acquisition of the Life Lease units and the establishment of Belvedere Heights Long-term Care on the hospital site, the Belvedere Board of Management will need to decide on how to divest itself of the building and property. It's possible that at that time a developer could come along with the idea of converting the building into apartments or condominiums, but at such a point in time, the Belvedere Board would be out of the picture on the hill. Still another developer may show an interest in developing a tourist destination.

First and foremost, the Belvedere Board concludes that the long-term facility has outgrown its quarters. With more beds in need and with the mandate to keep up with and maintain provincial compliance in every aspect of its service the Board is left with no alternative but to relocate.