Mega-hospital site at County Road 42 picked for cost, committee says

The selection committee for the new mega-hospital defended its site selection process Thursday, saying the land proposed by GEM Properties Inc. didn’t do enough to be the preferred hospital site.
Glenn Ackerley (second from right) answers reporters' questions on the site selection process for the new mega-hospital. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

The people responsible for choosing the location for Windsor's proposed new mega-hospital defended their site selection process Thursday, saying the process was both thorough and fair.

Site selection came under fire this week when Windsor Regional Hospital was slapped with a $10-million lawsuit by a company that was in the running for the new location up until the very end.

GEM Properties Inc. wanted the new hospital to be built on a parcel of land it owns near Lauzon Parkway and Tecumseh Road East. But that site didn't meet the criteria that the winning bid did, explained Bob Renaud, chairman of the selection committee.

"There were 32 different criteria," he told CBC News. "We believe this was an amazing process by amazing people, it was an extensive process and we stand by our people."

Both the GEM Properties land and the land eventually selected for the new hospital — located on County Road 42 near the airport — were strong contenders after the first phase of the process, officials said.

When it came to second phase, which took price into account, the 77-acre property owned by GEM turned out to be too expensive, Renaud said.

The GEM Property on Tecumseh Road was offered for $136,000 per acre, compared to the winning bid of $100,000 per acre.

At a press conference, which ran for more than an hour, officials with the selection committee repeatedly said the decision to go with the site on County Road 42 was the only option based on rules set down in the original request for proposals (RFP).

These are "the rules that everybody agreed to, the rules that have been made public, based on criteria that have been publicized for more than a year," said Dražen Bulat, a lawyer who worked with the committee. "You can't change the rules at the last minute if you don't like the result that your process has delivered."

Lawsuit seeks injunction

Maria Marusic, the lawyer representing GEM Properties disputes this explanation. She said the process wasn't fair and the lawsuit is designed to get a review put in place.

The suit names Michael and Mary Jane O'Keefe, the owners of the property on County Road 42 as well as Windsor Regional Hospital. 

"We've asked for a peer review," Marusic told CBC News. "Review the process, explain the process because that hasn't been done."

A statement of claim filed on behalf of GEM Properties calls for an injunction preventing the hospital from signing a deal with the O'Keefes.

When CBC News reached out to Mary Jane O'Keefe on Wednesday, she said she did not want to comment on the lawsuit.

As to the lawsuit, Windsor Regional CEO David Musyj said the hospital would be mounting a defence.

"This is exactly the reason we went through the process to make it very open, very transparent," he said. "I have no issues whatsoever, we'll defend the lawsuit, there's no merit to it."

Allegations in the statement of claim , filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice, have not been proven in court.

It's not yet clear how any possible injunction will affect the timeline for building the new hospital.

This image, released by Stantec, shows the sites considered for the new mega-hospital. (Stantec)


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