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New expansion planned at Harriston medical centre

'We see it as a critical component of serving the existing residents and providing for the newcomers too,' says Minto treasurer on how new addition will meet the needs of growing Harriston

Plans for an expansion capable of hosting two new medical practitioners at Harriston Lions Community Medical Centre are moving ahead.

On Tuesday, Minto councillors approved the necessary minor variance to allow a 1,150-square-foot addition to be built on the site at 16 John St. N. 

It will provide adequate space for two physicians/practitioners and include a reception area, waiting room, break room, nurses’ station, barrier-free washroom, two offices, two exam rooms and two procedure rooms.

Built in 1978 by the local Lions Club, operation of the medical centre was taken over by a corporation attached to the town in 2015 after club membership dwindled. The facility currently hosts a dentist and a chiropractor.

Mayor George Bridge said the idea for the expansion came out of discussions with the doctor recruitment group at Minto Mapleton Family Health Team.

Harriston — a town of 1,800 people according to 2016 census data — currently has one doctor in town, while some residents travel to Palmerston or other neighbouring communities to see a physician, said Bridge. 

“I think especially with the growth we’re seeing in Harriston, with a couple of big subdivisions coming on, we’ll definitely need to attract another doctor,” Bridge said.

“We’re kind of trying to nip it in the bud and get ahead of the problem.” 

Bridge said the health team plans to recruit a doctor and a nurse practitioner to work out of the new space.

There’s also a possibility that specialists could be brought in on a rotating basis a few times a month as a complement, Minto treasurer Gordon Duff said. 

Duff said the current estimated cost of the new addition is just over $500,000. More accurate estimates will be available once the project is tendered. 

The Minto Municipal Services Corporation, which runs the medical centre, will fund the project through a loan that will be paid back using rent from tenants in the building, Duff said. 

Construction on the expansion is expected to start in next spring and be completed later in the year. 

“I think it’s wonderful because Harriston is growing rapidly,” said Duff. “We see it as a critical component of serving the existing residents and providing for the newcomers too.”