Bracebridge is hoping to offer up land to help save local healthcare, potentially for all of Muskoka. Tonight Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith unveiled a plan for the Town to buy 44.5 acres from Fowlers – for $1.3 million – where a new acute care hospital could be built. The Town says it would make the site, located near Jim Lang Park off Highway 11, available to Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) at no cost as part of the Town’s contribution toward sustainable acute care hospital services. Smith told the gathering the property’s located at the end of Depot Drive and has full access to services while still being centrally located in the heart of Muskoka.

Smith spoke to the site’s geographic location of being in Bracebridge, which is a touchy subject for Huntsville. That Town too wants desperately to maintain an acute care hospital site of its own.

“As a council we support acute care at both (Huntsville and Bracebridge) sites and today’s announcement does not change that,” said Smith, who added that MAHC had not seen the proposal prior to tonight. Smith says there is no acrimony between he and Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison on the issue – Bracebridge’s proposal is to maintain an acute care hospital site in Bracebridge, which, should a single hospital model be chosen by the MAHC board, would serve Muskoka at large as well.

Smith says the option presented tonight is an alternative to the costly option of maintaining the existing South Muskoka Memorial Hospital and is in no way the first shot in any tug of war between Huntsville and Bracebridge which both want to keep acute care hospitals in their towns…

Expect more details on the proposal and MAHC’s reaction to the offer in the coming days. (Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith speaks to media at tonight’s announcement. Photo by Matt Sitler)