Phil McKenzie, company partner, and Patti Lou Robinson, director of community relations, stand outside (and six feet apart) at the Gardens of Haliburton sales office in the Village Barn on Highland Street. More than one-third of the suites at the new retirement residence have been reserved. /JENN WATT Staff

Strong early interest in Gardens of Haliburton suites

By Jenn Watt

Within a month of opening the Gardens of Haliburton sales office, about one-third of the new retirement residence’s 70 units were reserved for the building’s opening in the spring of 2021.

Offering a range of services and accommodations for seniors, the Gardens is designed to fill a previously unmet need in the community.

“This is an option for seniors that Haliburton didn’t have before,” said Phil McKenzie, company partner, seated at the table at the sales office in Haliburton’s Village Barn on Highland Street. “Certainly there are condos and apartments and obviously residential homes and cottages [locally] and … if there came a point where that situation wasn’t working for you anymore and you needed some assistance, then you had homecare to a certain level, but beyond that, there was this big jump to long-term care.”

For those who may be finding their home too much to care for, or for those who need additional help, McKenzie said that’s where the Gardens could be a good fit.

“People are looking at where they are now and saying, ‘this just doesn’t work anymore,’” he said, giving the example of someone who retired at 65 and years later, finds yard work and home maintenance to be too much.

Gardens of Haliburton, which is the development under construction on Sunnyside Street near Maple Avenue in Haliburton Village, offers units starting at about $3,000 a month. That amount covers rent on the one-bedroom suite, three meals a day plus snacks, 24-hour emergency response, activities, housekeeping, laundry. Depending on the suite chosen, the monthly cost goes up to about $5,200.

Service plans can include assisted living components such as medication administration, assistance with bath/shower, etc. depending on what is needed.

To date, about 80 per cent of those who have reserved a suite are from Haliburton County, said Patti Lou Robinson, director of community relations.

“And then the other 20 per cent, I’d say are people from out of town that their [adult] children live here,” she said. “… Some people are coming from … a residence elsewhere in another community, but now that this is available to them in Haliburton, their kids want them to be here.”

That goes for Robinson herself, whose mother will be living in one of the units when the Gardens opens this spring. Robinson, whose parents are Gary Vasey and Jeanne Egan (nee Windover), was born in the area, cottaged in the Highlands throughout her life, and returned to raise her children here.

Patti Lou Robinson, director of community relations for the Gardens of Haliburton, with her mom, Jeanne Egan, who has reserved a unit in the new retirement residence under construction in Haliburton. /Photo courtesy of Patti Lou Robinson

“She feels like she’s coming home, which is really nice,” Robinson said of her mother. “She was born and raised here.”

A floor plan of the Gardens of Haliburton shows a large dining room on the main floor, private spaces that residents can book for special gatherings, a coffee bar, fitness room, movie theatre, medical clinic that various specialists can use, and outdoor deck facing Head Lake.

McKenzie said from his experience working on similar buildings, the residents create a community together, sharing their experiences and making it their own.

From her conversations with those who have reserved suites, Robinson said they are already looking forward to the Gardens’ new residents.

One new resident has been teaching Tai Chi for 20 years and Robinson said she’s asked her if she would share her skills with other residents. “Many residents will have their own skills to share and build camaraderie with fellow residents with the help of an activities director,” she said via email.

McKenzie, who has been in the industry for 30 years, said he enjoys his work because of the people he gets to interact with – staff and residents alike.

“These places really take on the personality of who you have living there and running it. And I’m [excited] about the people who already reached out to us and said ‘I’m very interested in this position, please consider me for the job,’” he said. About 50 staff will be needed in the various positions at the Gardens of Haliburton.

More information can be found at or by contacting Robinson at 705-457-4848, or by email at