Lambton faces huge costs for LTC, social housing

Meadowview Villa, Petrolia

The numbers are staggering.

Lambton’s treasurer says the county would have to raise taxes four to 7.5 per cent if it wanted to meet all of its capital needs.

Larry Palarchio, in a report to Lambton County councillors, says there are a number of pressing needs – particularly in long term care and social housing – that have to be addressed. And it will add big bucks to the bottom line.

Palarchio says over the next 10 years, Lambton will have to build a replacement for Meadowview Villa in Petrolia. That’s estimated to cost upwards of $50 million.

The county also estimates there is a need for over 2,500 new affordable housing units in the next 10 years. At a cost right now of about $153,500 per unit, that bill is a massive $382.2 million over 10 years.

County officials are working on a capital plan now but say they will not be able to provide that amount of cash to meet the need and will have to rely on grants from upper levels of government and possibly seek out private sector partnerships to meet the needs.

Those big ticket items are above and beyond the $25 million capital budget the county plans for 2022 – $13 million of which will be roads and bridges.

Palarchio says more money will have to be socked away now to pay for those items in the next 10 years. He says the county would have to put away about $7.2 million a year to help meet the needs. Right now, it puts about $3.2 million away in reserves. That increase could lead to a 7.5 per cent tax increase.

Lambton Warden, Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott, says the numbers are staggering and upper levels of government will have to help out. “It is a huge amount and it is going to be difficult to obtain, but we have to start somewhere and see how much the upper levels of government help us with it,” he says. “I’m pretty sure we aren’t the only ones with as big a problem as this is.”

So far, Marriott adds, the feds and province have not created a funding program for social housing or long term care.