Province provides $4.6 million for site acquisition to accommodate new Catholic elementary school in Picton

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced today that Ontario has provided the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) $4.6 million in Land Priorities funding to purchase a property in Picton in anticipation of the construction of a new replacement St. Gregory Catholic Elementary School.

ALCDSB was awarded $8.7 million through the ministry’s 2019-2020 Capital Priorities program to construct a new 354-pupil Junior Kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school to address pupil accommodation requirements. The current St. Gregory school site is 2.2 acres and is unable to accommodate further expansion to the existing facility. The new site to be acquired will be in the vicinity of Talbot Street at the west end of Picton, where considerable new home development has been planned and initiated.

“I’m pleased to see that our government is working with the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board and municipal officials in Prince Edward County to ensure students and staff benefit from modern learning spaces in this new facility close to new population growth,” said Smith.
ALCDSB officials were thrilled with the announcement.

“On behalf of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board and the St. Gregory Catholic School community, I would like to thank the Ministry of Education and MPP Smith for their support in the approval of this capital priority as articulated in our multi-year strategic plan, which is a brand-new 354 pupil place school at 175 Talbot Street in Picton,” said David DeSantis, Director of Education.

Added board chair Tom Dall: “We thank the Province for their productive collaboration and significant investment in our faith-filled Catholic learning communities.”

The acquisition of a new site in Picton could also help Prince Edward County in pursuing one of its strategic objectives. Following the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) decision to close Queen Elizabeth Public School in 2018, the board declared its Barker Street property surplus. Both the ALCDSB and Prince Edward County expressed interest in acquiring the school through the Ontario Reg. 444/98 dispersal process, with the board higher on the priority list.

Following fruitful discussions between the boards, the municipality, and Smith, the ALCDSB elected to pursue a new site and requested site acquisition approval and funding from the Province. Previous offers for the property were allowed to lapse and the HPEDSB restarted the dispersal process Monday. Mayor Steve Ferguson has indicated the municipality plans to pursue the property. He expressed gratitude for the school and site funding, as well as the opportunity arising.

“We welcome today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario. Strong, thriving and modern education institutions are critical for the long-term health and well-being of our community,” said Ferguson. “And, with a new location for the school identified, we look forward to the possibility of acquiring and redeveloping the former Queen Elizabeth School property to support affordable and attainable housing in our community.

Smith is encouraged about the possibilities.

“The addition of more housing – including affordable units – remains a top priority for our government. I’m pleased the collaborative approach to site selection for this school could provide new opportunities within the municipality to achieve this objective,” said Smith.


• Since 2018, the Ontario government has invested over $2.0 billion in capital projects in education, including 100 new schools, 88 additions and renovations to existing facilities and 6,410 new licensed childcare spaces.
• For 2022-2023, the province is providing school boards with $1.4 billion in funding to revitalize and renew aged building systems and components.
• The governments of Canada and Ontario are providing $656.5 million in funding for critical infrastructure projects to protect students and staff from COVID-19 in the province’s schools through the COVID-19 Resilience stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Site preparations continue as Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital build moves toward tender



PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, was pleased to visit the site of the new Quinte Health Care (QHC) Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital in Picton, Friday, to see continued preparations to proceed to tendering and construction. 

Prior to tender, QHC is considering hybrid energy systems that may include solar or geothermal generation to offset conventional sources. This week, it has engaged Geosource Energy to determine whether the site would be suitable for geothermal heating. The technology harnesses heat from the ground to create renewable energy.  There are two types of geothermal technology – open loop systems, which use groundwater, and closed loop systems, which use heat from rocks. It has already been determined that there is not sufficient ground water for the open loop system, but a closed loop system may be possible. 

To create closed loop systems, contractors drill deep holes into the ground.  The holes are connected by a series of underground piping infrastructure.  This week, crews will attempt to drill down 500 feet to determine soil and rock composition to determine the viability of the technology.  Information from these test holes, each five-to-six inches in diameter, will help inform the tendering process. 

“This hybrid energy project would help Quinte Health Care reduce emissions, boost energy efficiency and build a greener and healthier community for all to enjoy,” said Smith, also Ontario’s Minister of Energy. “Seeing these drills on site also provides confidence in the community that we will get this needed facility built.” 

 Lina Rinaldi, QHC’s Vice-President and Chief Nursing Executive, said the hospital considers sustainability and environmental responsibility priorities as it prepares design documents for tender. 

The new PECMH will be a modern place of care and healing for our patients, and a point of pride for our community and our hardworking team. As we consider the health needs of the community served by the new hospital, it’s crucial that our plan embraces sustainability and takes into account our collective obligation to the wellness of our environment,” she said.  “Exploring the viability of a renewal energy source makes sense in the short term and for decades to come. The unwavering support from our partners, the Province and the Prince Edward County community continues to be a source of inspiration moving this project forward.” 

Barbara McConnell said the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation is supportive of the testing. The foundation continues to raise funds for the required community contribution to the project, which will support the purchase of medical equipment needed to equip the hospital, and potentially fund environmental design enhancements.  

 “The possibility of a geothermal system will provide the new hospital with a low-energy, low-emission, and sustainable heating and cooling source. Our small, but mighty community of supporters have proven that when we believe in something, like environmental sustainability, we will ‘dig deep’ to make it happen,” McConnell said. Every day we see how our donors have a powerful impact on the way our hospital delivers care. Because of their support, we are now in the position where we can explore these sustainability options and work toward our new hospital having a zero-carbon footprint. We are looking at a bright future for the delivery of healthcare in our community and are well on our way to building a great hospital; potentially the first of its kind in North America. We are extremely grateful for our community’s continued support.”  

The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital redevelopment moved into the fourth stage of a five-stage approvals process in April.  In this stage, QHC can prepare detailed designs with cost estimates, finalize tender documents, tender the project and select a preferred vendor, and request a capital grant from the Ministry of Health for construction. Typically, this stage lasts 18-24 months, which would allow construction to begin as early as Spring 2024. 




Ontario provides $546,364 for Quinte workforce development at Enrichment Centre for Mental Health



BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government is working for workers through a $546,364 investment in the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health’s GIFT (Growing Independent Futures for Tomorrow) program. GIFT will assist vulnerable people to overcome barriers to entering the job market and securing in-demand, well-paying jobs within the Quinte region. 

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced the program funding today on behalf of Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration Training and Skills Development. 

“Our growing local economy is creating workforce pressures and greater opportunities for employment within the Quinte region, but many job candidates face barriers to access the market,” said Smith. “By providing specialized training and wraparound counselling and support, the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health is preparing local residents to meet employers’ needs and enabling them to succeed.” 

The funding supports 10 four-week training cohorts targeting as many as 200 participants, including people with disabilities. These participants are invited to attend a training environment that mimics the schedule and protocols of a typical workplace. In that environment, they receive access to hard and soft skills training, mentorship, and counselling. The training is a pathway to jobs and apprenticeship programs.  Following the course, participants return to monthly post-program gatherings with their peers and trainers to address workplace successes and concerns.  

Sandie Sidsworth, the Executive Director at the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health, says GIFT is succeeding in helping participants secure and retain jobs. 

“After the last two-and-a-half years we realize that mental health has to be approached as a global construct community wide, and that includes the workplace.  A healthy workforce begins with resilience for retention and the GIFT program brings individuals that are dealing with anxiety and depression and supports them to move into the workplace,” she said. “They are provided with tools to remain resilient, maintain their mental wellness and continue their trajectory of recovery, normalizing mental health support as a daily part of someone’s day. Resilience, recovery, renewal.” 

This initiative is supported through the government’s Skills Development Fund, which has provided over $200 million in funding for innovative projects that address challenges to hiring, training, and retaining workers as Ontario endures and emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Across our province, more than 375,000 jobs are available, and we need all hands on deck to fill them, “said Minister McNaughton. “That's why our government is investing in innovative training programs, like GIFT, which gives vulnerable people the skills needed to find meaningful work and a better life.” 

During today’s announcement, Smith also recognized that the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health is receiving a $155,200 grant over 24 months through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Resilient Communities Fund to provide resiliency training programs for local workplaces.  


  • Job seekers interested in applying to participate in the GIFT program can call the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health at 613-969-8874. 
  • According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians experience mental health problems each year and every week, 500,000 Canadians will miss work due to mental health. The CMHA estimates mental health costs the economy $51 billion annually.  
  • Statistics Canada data suggests the employment rate of Canadians with a mental health-related disability is 46 per cent, compared to approximately 80 per cent among those within a disability. 
  • Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for skilled trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly 1 in 3 journeypersons in Ontario were aged 55 or older.  
  • In the fall of 2021, there were more than 360,000 jobs vacant in Ontario.  
  • Ontario’s Skills Development Fund is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.   


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