Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare Weekly Community Update – March 15, 2024


Over the past several weeks, MAHC has received questions and inquiries about how the Pine Street location was chosen as the preferred location for the Bracebridge site. The purpose of this update is to provide clarity around the process and decision-making.


Choosing the best property in Bracebridge for a future hospital was a very complex, thorough, and collaborative process. Supported by consultants from Urban Strategies Inc., a firm specializing in hospital redevelopment projects, MAHC began the site selection process in November 2022 and put out an open call to the community at large and local realtors for potential properties.

Committed to a consultative process, MAHC held engagement sessions and conducted interviews with key stakeholders, including municipal and regional governments, first responders, health care partners, staff, credentialed staff and community members.

MAHC identified five potential properties, which were evaluated against standard planning criteria, cost assessments and key elements identified through stakeholder engagement.  Following a comprehensive review of each property, the list was reduced to two sites: the Pine Street property, and the Muskoka Royale property on Muskoka Beach Road.  Prior to more detailed due diligence work, the consultants supported either site as being viable for the future hospital development.

MAHC completed extensive due diligence on these two viable properties, including cultural and heritage assessments, archaeological potential, geotechnical and hydrogeological studies, cost estimates, and a review of environmental features and potential wildlife impacts.  While both properties had benefits and challenges, the Pine Street property was determined to be the best long-term option based on evaluation elements such as land size, access, environmental factors, and the long-term impacts on the Town and taxpayers.

“We’re building a hospital for the next fifty years and beyond,” said Cheryl Harrison, MAHC’s President & CEO. “Site selection has been a long process, but we know it was important to take the time to get it right.  With its proximity to downtown Bracebridge, access to transit and emergency services and a smaller environmental impact, the Pine Street location is the best choice to meet the needs of our communities.”

Following a recommendation from the project team, MAHC’s Board of Directors approved the selection of the Pine Street location and a public announcement was made on December 21, 2023.


Who were the stakeholders consulted through engagement sessions and interviews?

MAHC consulted a wide range of stakeholders in the process. This included:

  1. Town of Bracebridge
  2. Town of Gravenhurst
  3. District of Muskoka
  4. Emergency Services (OPP, Fire and Paramedic Services)
  5. Community members through open houses in January and April 2023
  6. MAHC Staff, Credentialed Staff and Volunteers
  7. MAHC Patient and Family Advisory Committee
  8. Correctional Service of Canada (Beaver Creek Institution)
  9. Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team
  10. Community health partners
  11. Indigenous communities
  12. Infrastructure Ontario, Ministry of Health, and Ontario Health

What were the key elements identified through stakeholder engagement?

Through the initial engagement process, we identified the following elements as important to our stakeholders:

  1. Proximity to Highway 11
  2. Access to the local transit service routes
  3. Avoiding travel through congested District roads
  4. Accessible location for residents in Gravenhurst and population around Muskoka Lakes
  5. Proximity to other medical services/offices
  6. The potential for future commercial/retail uses or housing for employees
  7. Availability of municipal servicing (water, roads, sewers)
  8. Primary and secondary road access to site
  9. Walking or cycling access to the downtown core
  10. Avoidance of negative environmental issues


What are the standard planning criteria referenced in the Site Selection Overview?

The following are the planning criteria commonly used in this type of site selection process:

  1. Land use planning framework (i.e. what the land area is zoned for by the municipality)
  2. Capacity for growth/phased development in the future
  3. Servicing (water, sewers, roads, etc.)
  4. Transportation/access
  5. Opportunity for alternative uses/redevelopment
  6. Complete communities/complementary uses


How were the preliminary properties assessed?

The following pass/fail criteria were used to evaluate each potential property:

  1. Developable area of the property is a minimum of 40 acres, or could be combined with an adjacent available parcel to meet the minimum 40 acre threshold
  2. Property is located within the Town of Bracebridge’s urban boundary
  3. Property is available (landowner is willing to sell)
  4. Property has direct or convenient access to a provincial highway or district road
  5. Property has a usable shape and topography
  6. Property has access to or is close to municipal services (sanitary, storm service/outlets, water, power, gas, communications)
  7. Site is not below 1.4 metres above the 1:100-year floodplain


Why was the Pine Street location chosen after the Muskoka Beach Road site was initially identified as the preliminary preferred site?

The initial assessment of potential locations, which identified the Muskoka Beach Road as the preliminary preferred site, was the first step in the assessment process. Extensive due diligence work was performed on these two viable properties, including cultural and heritage assessments, archaeological potential, geotechnical and hydrogeological studies, and a review of environmental features and potential wildlife impacts.

This due diligence assessment determined that 300 Pine Street is the best long-term option for the future hospital in South Muskoka based on the following elements:

  1. Ministry’s minimum land requirements met, including size and suitability
  2. Proximity to Highway 11 and downtown Bracebridge
  3. Access to municipal transit and emergency services
  4. Dual road access with future road improvements
  5. Affordable land cost
  6. Avoids railway, pipeline, watercourse, and wetlands issues
  7. Minimizes impacts on environment and potential wildlife
  8. Supports long-term partnership with Town of Bracebridge (property owner)

What were the evaluation criteria used during the due diligence process related to the Pine Street and Muskoka Beach Road locations?

The following elements were reviewed:

  1. Infrastructure
    1. Grading and fill
    2. Sanitary
    3. Domestic water
    4. Easements
  2. Geotechnical
    1. Bedrock
    2. Groundwater
  3. Environmental
  4. Natural heritage

Species at risk

Wildlife habitat


  1. Cultural heritage



Offsite road improvements



MTO approval

With the donation offer from Muskoka Royale, why has MAHC not reconsidered the Muskoka Beach Road property?

The information that the Muskoka Beach Road property owners spoke to at the Community sessions was not part of the negotiations and discussions prior to the decision on the property.

Both properties had a specific cost to acquire associated with them at the time our decision was made. While the post-decision public offer is appreciated, price is just one aspect of the site selection process.  The Provincially Significant Wetlands designation (provincial) impacts the Muskoka Beach Road site and therefore the costs to develop the road access and site itself.  MAHC needs to proceed with the property that is best suited for the needs of the project, the hospital, and the community.

The Pine Street site remains the better-suited location for the project in the longer term, based on its closer proximity to downtown Bracebridge, better access to transit and emergency services, a smaller environmental impact, and lower costs for required infrastructure to the taxpayers of Bracebridge.


To keep our communities updated on the progress of our plans and upcoming engagement opportunities, MAHC will continue to release weekly updates.

We encourage all community members to sign up at to receive these updates directly.


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