By Lisa Gervais

A Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) board member said it is “absolutely ridiculous” Dysart et al is asking for rent for the parking lot where the COVID-19 assessment centre trailer is stationed.

However, Mayor Andrea Roberts said the municipality is simply trying to have a formal agreement in place and to recover costs during the pandemic.

The issue was raised at the Oct. 29 HHHS board meeting, where they discussed the trailer located outside the family medical centre in Haliburton.

CAO Carolyn Plummer said one of the upcoming expenses is rent and Hydro to the township.

“That’s going to be adding to our ongoing operating costs at a time when we’re really not even certain whether we’re going to be able to get sufficient funding from the province to cover those (costs)…” Plummer said.

Board member Irene Odell said it was disappointing.

“I’m kind of surprised because this is a service to our community,” she said.

Board member David O’Brien agreed. He said he could understand paying Hydro costs, but not rent.

“We are fighting COVID as a community and we’re doing it as a whole community and we’re doing it together as a community and, really, to think you should have to charge us to do this service for our community, absolutely ridiculous in my mind,” he said.

Odell asked where people would have to go if HHHS had to close the assessment centre if it became unaffordable in Haliburton. Plummer said Lindsay, Peterborough, Bracebridge or Bancroft.

“It’s quite a travel for folks, especially coming into the winter months,” she said.

She added they had also previously discussed a possible relocation but preferred the current site since it is so close to the Haliburton Hospital and the medical centre.

Plummer said they had been in talks with Roberts and, “she’s certainly aware of the circumstances we’re facing right now.”

Some board members said they did not think the parking lot was very full during COVID due to virtual appointments and did not think Dysart was losing revenue.

Roberts told The Highlander Oct. 30 that she did not attend the HHHS board meeting so she’s not sure what was discussed.

However, “I can say we are working with them and the other groups involved with the assessment centre to have a lease agreement, and are hoping to have it finalized soon. To date it has been in the parking lot with no agreement. We need to have things clear and fair for Dysart. It has always been our intention to be a good partner as we are all trying to deal with Covid-19.”

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