Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

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A two-day planning committee meeting ended Monday with a 6-2 vote in support of a master plan for the future Citizens’ Hospital at the Central Experimental Farm.

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The committee’s approval is one of the many steps Ottawa Hospital will have to clear as it develops a $ 2.8 billion health center at the east end of the yard near Dow’s Lake. The new hospital, which will replace the existing Civic campus on Carling Avenue, is scheduled to open in 2028.

After hearing from dozens of public delegates on Friday, many of whom are still bitter about the site selection process, committee members waited until Monday to cast their vote for the site plan.

While the committee overwhelmingly supported the proposed local plan, several councilors predicted that there would be significant work to nail down the look and feel of the new hospital site.

A major unresolved issue is the way the hospital will be connected to the expanded Trillium Line, whose renovated Dow’s Lake Station will be located on the north side of busy Carling Avenue.

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Stephen Willis, the city’s general manager in charge of planning and infrastructure, said an underground pedestrian connection and overpass are possible options to connect the hospital to the train station, but there may not be a decision on another two or three years on which to build.

There is also concern over the hospital’s intention to build a four-storey parquet by 2024 near the intersection of Carling Avenue and Preston Street. Willis offered assurances that the hospital would hide the garage from the picturesque Dow’s Lake area.

River Coun. Riley Brockington, whose department covers most of the hospital’s project site, said Central Experimental Farm is “vulnerable,” and he wants the federal government to prevent further deterioration of the open space.

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“The farm is not protected from development,” Brockington warned, calling for a federal law to protect the farm. The committee unanimously agreed.

The city may already have the government’s ear. Incoming Ottawa Center Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi added legislative protection to Central Experimental Farm to part of its platform during the recent federal election campaign.

It is important to knit the new hospital into the surrounding green space, Rideau-Goulbourn Coun said. Scott Moffatt, chairman of the planning committee.

Moffatt said health care workers working under severe stress deserve access to a natural environment, not a “concrete jungle.” The mental health of employees at the new health facility should be part of the decision-making process that goes into planning the hospital project, Moffatt said.

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Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper and Capital Coun. Shawn Menard voted against the site plan, but they received unanimous support for changing proposals regarding public transportation, bicycle infrastructure, tree planting, and community consultation on transportation issues.

Menard lamented the “undemocratic” way the country was elected to the new hospital. He argued that the local plan was not in line with what the council originally expected to see presented by Ottawa Hospital.

Committee members who voted for the local plan were Glen Gower, Catherine Kitts, Jean Cloutier, Tim Tierney, Brockington and Moffatt. Laura Dudas and Allan Hubley were not present at the vote.

The council will be asked to support the hospital site during a meeting on 13 October.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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