It will be at least another year before the Port Carling paramedic station is replaced.
That’s according to Stuart McKinnon, Deputy Chief of Muskoka Paramedic Services (MPS), who says it will be 2024 before any move is possible. The current proposal is to rebuild the Port Carling from the ground up at a district public works yard on Hwy 118 in Glen Orchard.
Last year, the project was approved by District Council before it dissolved for the municipal election. At the time, the project was quoted at around $5.6-million, already $1.1-million dollars higher than initial estimates.
McKinnon says they’re trying to keep costs as close to that figure as possible, but construction costs have only increased since the project was given the thumbs up.
“The cost of a lot of things has gone up, and that includes building costs,” says McKinnon. “So we want to take a closer look at what are we actually building out in the west. Being as responsible as possible when it comes to the best bang for our dollar [in] creating a station. And we also want to line this up with our 10-year master plan.”
That plan outlines the future of MPS until 2028. McKinnon says they’ve already implemented the short-term items such as optimizing deployment and expanding coverage on the east side and are now onto medium-term items such as deployment in west Muskoka.
Before they lock in plans for the purpose-built station, McKinnon says they need to be sure of what those purposes will be. That includes how many ambulances and crews the station will support, how much training space is needed, and non-911 services such as the Community Paramedicine Program. He adds that the program is on temporary funding until 2024, but “it’s certainly proven its worth,” and will likely be extended.
“We want all of those moving pieces to kind of align, and when we talk about something as big as a new station, we certainly want to make sure we’re planning ahead long in advance,” says McKinnon. “Because these stations are expensive, and they need to serve the community and our service for an extended period of time.”
With the Port Carling station sitting on leased land, the district will have to renew the lease short-term as the next steps are figured out. McKinnon says MPS will update the district on the master plan in April, with a report on the station coming later in the year.