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Town of Gravenhurst still playing waiting game when it comes to Muskoka Regional Centre property

Three mayors and nearly three decades later, the Town of Gravenhurst still has no answers on the Muskoka Regional Centre (MRC) property.

With incumbent Mayor Paul Kelly not running for re-election in October’s municipal election, it means a fourth mayor will be tasked with dealing with the province’s inaction on the MRC property. “The frustrations continue even as my term comes to a close” Kelly says.

The town will have a delegation at next week’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference with the Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma. Five councillors will attend the meeting, including Deputy Mayor Heidi Lorenz. The AMO conference runs from Aug. 14 to 17 in Ottawa.

“Our hope is that we’ll get some sense about what are the next steps,” Kelly says.

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The last word from the province was in January 2021 when the town was told a proponent was interested in purchasing the property. Still, Kelly says nothing ended up happening because provincial officials were looking for more information from the potential buyer. Then, the provincial election happened and brought with it a crop of new MPPs and a cabinet reshuffling. 

In mid-2019, Maple Leaf Schools was interested in purchasing the property, but they weren’t able to agree to terms with the province. 

“You can imagine how frustrating it might be for proponents who are waiting for an answer,” Kelly says.

Kelly adds he knows whatever happens with the MRC, it needs to bring new jobs to the community. That, he says, is what the community wants.

As for the Ontario Fire College, which was decommissioned in March 2021, Kelly says the province has yet to put it up for sale. “We’re anticipating the town will still have an opportunity to be a partner in the conversation,” he says.

However, like with the MRC, it’s a waiting game for the town. 

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