In a release Thursday Houston called on the Liberal government to release its plans for the Riverview Adult Residential Centre renovation project stating that staff was recently informed that the final phase of the project will not proceed.
Renovations were set to be done in three phases. The first two phases are nearing completion. The final phase, which consists of implementing 34 beds, has been cancelled by the Department of Community Services.
Houston questions why the Liberal government is walking away from the final phase at this late stage when he says community members are anticipating the additional beds at the facility.
“The government has paid significant architecture and engineering fees for a three-stage project. They’ve already purchased materials and supplies, some of which are already sitting on site and all of this investment is now being abandoned,” said Houston. “The department is saying that they have a new plan, but applying this new plan retroactively and cancelling a project that is over halfway completed is a senseless waste of money and a huge disappointment for the community.”
Houston says cancelling the project at this point will result in job losses for contractors with signed work agreements, and longer wait lists for people ready to move into Riverview.
“The government is playing another shell game, making it look like they’re saving taxpayers’ dollars, but I’m worried the costs outweigh the benefits of cutting the project,” Houston said. “How does this new plan help Nova Scotians?”
Houston says the project is likely past the tipping point. He says it makes more sense to finish Riverview and implement the new Road Map for future projects.
Department of Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard said in a phone interview that stopping this project and continuing instead with the new Road Map which was established by the previous government and continued by the Liberals is the right thing.
She said the decision was in keeping with the new plan and it only made sense to halt the $5 million phase-three project.
“I encourage Mr. Houston to read the Road Map,” Bernard said. “It’s not a political decision.”
She said it just didn’t make sense to continue to build an institutional facility when the province has already decided it’s not the best approach for care. She said the care options outlined in the Road Map are in keeping with what’s best for promoting the rights of people with disabilities.
She admits there will be wrap-up costs and she said they are in the process of dealing with those. She said however that the money that isn’t used on this facility will be put back into other care options for people in Pictou County.
“Those monies will be available to invest for persons with disabilities for that area,” she said.
“This conversation should never be mired in partisan politics. It’s simply the right thing to do.”
On Twitter: NGNewsAdam