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Finance Minister Blaine Higgs told a public meeting in Saint John that all projects are being reviewed during his pre-budget consultation process. ((CBC))

The $75-million expansion project at the Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John is being put on hold as a review is being undertaken by the Progressive Conservative government in its budget-tightening exercise.

The former Liberal government announced the expansion project in December 2009 so the long-term care facility could renovate some of its aging sections, which have hallways so narrow that residents' wheelchairs scratch the walls.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs started his pre-budget consultation process this week, where he is asking for the public's help in setting priorities for the provincial budget.

Much of the talk at the first public meeting in Saint John on Monday revolved around services that should be protected from budget cuts. Higgs told the crowd there are no guarantees on what will be funded after his first budget, which will be released in March.

"We have to look everywhere and we can't turn a blind eye to anything," Higgs said.

The current review means some infrastructure projects, such as upgrades to Loch Lomond Villa, must wait until after the review is completed before they can move ahead with further work.

Some site work has started on the Saint John construction project.

Cindy Donovan, the facility's chief executive officer, said she must get the provincial government's permission before construction can continue.

"There's a process and we just have to be patient sometimes when the process takes longer than we had hoped," Donovan said.

The initial hope was to have a ribbon cutting at the new facility by 2011.

Donovan said she now expects work will be done by the spring of 2012.