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Council moves ahead with plan for Dundas children’s hospice – Hamilton Spectator

February 15th, 2024 – City Staff working on $25,000-a-year lease for city land

The city will negotiate a below-market lease for a future children’s hospice on municipal land in Dundas with the goal of firming up an agreement in coming months. Kemp Care Network aims to build the pediatric hospice on the 41 South St. W. parcel by Wentworth Lodge, one of the city’s two municipally run long-term care homes. The future pediatric hospice will fill a regional gap in services, said Doug Mattina, a senior director with the hospice network.

“There’s 1,000 children who are seriously ill and would benefit in our south-central catchment for palliative services.” On Wednesday, council directed staff to work on the terms of a 49-year lease predicated on a proposed annual rate of $25,000 with five-year reviews. “This is the worthiest of worthy causes that we’re talking about here,” Coun. Jeff Beattie said.

Kemp Care Network operates Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice on Stone Church Road East. The network has raised about half of the $25 million that’s budgeted for Keaton’s House-Paul Paletta Children’s Hospice. The province has committed to 10 per cent, or $2.5 million, of the capital cost. Local developer Paul Paletta has donated $5 million to the project.

Keaton Millar was the son of CEO Danielle Zucchet. He died in 2010 at age seven. “When I learned that there were other cities and other communities that had these supports for their families and for these children, I was flabbergasted to learn that this was not an option for mine,” Zucchet told council last week. For families in need, “we’re trying to build the supports as we can, but it is immensely exciting to come this far and stand here today,” she said.

Kemp Care Network’s plan calls for a roughly 30,000-square-foot “homelike” building that would be one to two storeys, Mattina noted. One wing would have 10 suites for children and families. A second wing is to serve as a centre of excellence for grief and bereavement services.

The city’s chief corporate real estate officer, Ray Kessler, told council that the market value of the South Street land has been appraised at about $8.5 million and the lease at roughly $600,000 a year. Rather than a nominal rate of $1, the hospice suggested $25,000 to provide “some benefit” for the city and community, said Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic development.

The proposal has been the subject of community feedback sessions in Dundas. “We’re just making sure we’re doing our due diligence to protect the public’s interests,” Coun. Alex Wilson told The Spectator. Overall, the local feedback has been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the project. Some concerns for traffic flow and emphasis on green-building standards have been raised, Wilson noted.

More community consultation is expected once more site analysis is completed. The work involves ensuring space for the hospice and “not precluding” other potential uses, such as housing or expansion of Wentworth Lodge, Thorne said. Proximity to McMaster’s Children’s Hospital is one advantage of the Dundas site that will help allow for a smooth continuum of care, Mattina said.

“What we really want is for families, kids, to not even feel like they’re moving through different entities. They feel connected.”