Tue. May 17th, 2022

Other cities have found different ways to help hospital projects move forward, and Ottawa needs to do the same.

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The big unanswered question hanging over the $ 2.8 billion new Civic hospital is where to find the local share of the cost, and how much, if anything, the city should contribute.

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While residents have quarreled over such issues as the parking garage, LRT connection and even location, the main issue has been ignored. It should not be anymore.

On October 1, according to senior planner Sean Moore, the planning committee will take up the Civic master plan. The thing is, there is a local share of $ 700 million to be found, and now it’s time to debate what the role of the city should be before the question goes to council. The city just can not leave the entire burden on the shoulders of Ottawa Hospital. The new super hospital is pr. Definition a city-defining project, and the council has a responsibility to help find the means to pay for it. This kind of challenge is not new in Ontario. Other cities in similar situations have poned up. Ottawa can not less.

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At the heart of the problem, of course, is that Ontario does not pay the full cost of hospital construction. It pays 90 percent. the remaining 10 percent as well as other costs including new equipment and furniture are a local responsibility. For Civic, Ontario contributes $ 2.1 billion. Dollars, so that mountain of 700 million dollars has been climbed. The $ 300 million Ottawa Hospital projects come primarily from parking revenue, leaving $ 400 million to travel from the community.

At best, raising such money locally would not be a small matter. In an age of COVID-19, where companies are struggling to survive and philanthropists are implicitly hurting, it seems like a Mission Impossible. It is actually too big a task to leave to hospital collections and the good grace of the residents. Other cities have found different ways to help hospital projects move forward, and Ottawa needs to do the same.

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Windsor-Essex, which, like Ottawa, is in the planning phase of a $ 2 billion new hospital, has imposed a special property tax on $ 200 million in local costs. The city of Windsor will raise $ 108.5 million, while Essex County will contribute $ 91.5 million.

In Niagara, the Regional Council committed $ 44.5 million as its contribution to the local share of $ 212 million at Southern Niagara Hospital, which is scheduled to open in 2026. Municipal councils are also expected to make contributions. The Regional Council also contributed $ 21 million to the local share of a hospital in St. Louis. Catharines.

In Brampton in 2013, the city also imposed a 3.3 percent tax levy over several years to raise the local share of $ 60 million at Peel Memorial Hospital.

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In Oakville, however, the city took a different path. It contributed $ 130 million to the $ 2.7 billion local stake in Trafalgar Memorial Hospital in 2015, raising $ 90 million through debt financing and $ 40 million from the sale of its subsidiary Hydro telecom.

Several cities in Ontario have shown that there are various economic avenues to take to help bring hospital projects to fruition. If other cities can recognize the value of such projects and help them, there is no reason why that recognition should escape Mayor Jim Watson and the City Council.

Yes, Watson has made lower taxes the hallmark of his career as mayor, and Ottawa residents are no doubt grateful that tax increases have continued in the area of ​​two to three percent. But a city does not only thrive by keeping taxes low. As a property taxpayer, do I want to see higher taxes? Absolutely not. But we all recognize our responsibility for the greater good, and if it means helping to pay for the Civic, then so be it.

There are other paths to take, no doubt. But on the Civic, the city just can not be a spectator. It must come up with a plan to support the hospital, as other cities have done with their projects. Failure to do so would be a breach of duty.

Mohammed Adam is a journalist and commentator in Ottawa. Reach him at: nylamiles48@gmail.com

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