In Conversation with Tim Withey; Fairvern will stimulate Huntsville's growth in 'spades'

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Agatha Farmer

Over the last few months leading up to the Fairvern vote on Feb. 18 Councillor Tim Withey seemed to be the main lead from the town of Huntsville delegation to lobby the loudest for the long term care facility and its residents.

The true impact of the Feb. 18 unanimous resolution to assume the operation and the $50 million re-development of Fairvern was felt on a very emotional level when residents in attendance following the call of the vote were wiping tears from their eyes. During a recent interview with Withey a couple of weeks prior to the vote while sitting in a local Huntsville coffee shop it was evident this was the topic of the day as several residents approached him asking him to consider the importance of Fairvern. He was listening as at the last district health committee meeting on Feb. 18 he was the only councillor speaking on behalf of Huntsville and Fairvern as Huntsville's mayor quietly sat beside him never to actually speak at that meeting.

In a recent interview with Muskoka Post he outlined the benefits of retaining the long term care home not just for Huntsville but Muskoka. According to Withey there will be approximately 120 new jobs created as a result of this expansion. These will be relatively well paying positions. In addition to more employment there will also be construction employees who will be building the new facility. He said that depending on the scope and size of construction there could be companies travelling from the Toronto area.

"Any new person involved in either of these capacities likely will relocate to the area which creates a potential new property tax payer. Any increase in the local population will have a positive effect on all other businesses in town. It’s been demonstrated that if there is a new Fairvern resident (because of the increase in beds) often the family will move to the area to be closer to their loved one," said Withey,

"Bottom line is if you believe growth is good – this will stimulate that in spades. As I’ve said in the past – when the predictions are that the growth in the population in Muskoka will grow from 60,000 to some 70,000 people in the next 10 years – I truly believe it means that Huntsville is going to grow from 20,000 to 30,000. We are poised to become the next regional ‘hub’ in the province. The next Barrie – if you will – though hopefully it doesn’t look like Barrie. Because of our location between Barrie and North Bay. Because of our proximity to Algonquin Park. Because of Deerhurst and G8 infrastructure, because of our location of our hospital and Fairvern in our growing Healthcare campus, because of our vibrant arts and culture scene -  we will be the place to be in Ontario. Already Huntsville is growing leaps and bounds over the rest of Muskoka.

I know there are some who don’t see growth as a good thing. They want to dig a moat around the town and turn back the clock to 1955, I don’t think they are being realistic. It is happening whether we like it or not. We have to make sure we manage it the right way. We have to have systems and local government that make sure we don’t blow it."

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