Despite pandemic delays, Haliburton’s new 70-unit retirement facility is making progress towards a planned Spring 2021 opening.

The Gardens of Haliburton announced in a June update the new home at Sunnyside Street would be finished in January/February, with plans for a May 1 opening. The organization is also opening a sales office at 195 Highland St. Aug. 1.

Company partner Phil Mardimae said COVID-19 has delayed completion from an initial timeline of November, as fewer workers can be at the site to allow for physical distancing. He said they expect to be able to begin building indoors in the next couple of weeks.

“It’s going quite well, given the pandemic situation,” he said. “The main way it impacted is we weren’t able to flood the construction site with as many workers.”

The project has been in development for more than a year, initially announced Sept. 2018. The private retirement residence aims to provide a home for seniors, with the rent covering meals, housekeeping, activities, 24-hour emergency response and healthcare consultation. Partner and marketing head Phil McKenzie said they see the project as filling a void.

“We’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the number of people who contact us and start with, ‘we’re so pleased that Haliburton is going to have this level of care that it hasn’t had before’,” he said. “We’re really not competing against anyone.”

He added the home would help seniors who may no longer be able to live on their own but do not necessarily require the services of a long-term care home. Mardimae said the pandemic is not changing the design of the building, but they are preparing for it operationally with safety precautions. He cited a retirement living facility they already run, the Gardens of Parry Sound, which has had no COVID-19 cases.

McKenzie said retirement living facilities are well-equipped to prevent an outbreak from spreading, with an easier ability to isolate people in separate units compared to some long-term care homes. He also said the pricing has not been finalized but they plan to have that ready by Aug. 1.

The Gardens of Haliburton has also proposed a second phase of development to add another 50 units after the completion of the first 70. Mardimae said the subsequent development would depend on the demand level after the first structure is
up-and-running. That means the second phase might not go ahead if the demand is not there.

“It’s possible,” Mardimae said. “We designed these facilities so even if only phase one gets built, it’s totally self-sustainable, it’s there permanently.”

But McKenzie added even if the demand is not there immediately, they expect it would be eventually with an ageing population.

“We’re certainly expecting it will be there in the next few years.”

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