Nfld. & Labrador·Humour

Swamp thing: Oh, of course we're going to put a pricey new hospital on a flood plain

It's not like the Newfoundland and Labrador government has not been warned about its plans to put a new hospital on swampy ground, writes CBC contributor Edward Riche, who has some satirical ideas of other things the government may want to build next.

Here are some satirical ideas of other things the government may want to build next

An area of wetland next to the Health Sciences Centre is being filled in to prepare the site of the new hospital. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

This column is satire by Edward Riche, a novelist, playwright and author living in St. John's.

It never made sense.

When we've never been more conscious of the value of wetlands, particularly in urban environments, never been more aware of extreme weather events caused by climate change, never been so broke, we build a costly new hospital in a swamp in the centre of the capital city.

Who would decide to displace a vast volume of water held up in acres of bog and marsh, and purposely flush it downstream into a dense residential quarter of St. John's?

It's not like the Newfoundland and Labrador government has not been warned by the experts that building the replacement for the Waterford psychiatric hospital on land next to the Health Sciences Centre is a very bad idea.

In May 2018, St. John's Mayor Danny Breen wrote then transportation and works minister Steve Crocker, "Development in the floodplain cannot only impact the subject site but also have unintended consequences outside the immediate HSC as water is diverted elsewhere during extreme flood events."

And why, with alternative sites all over the region, would anyone add new traffic load to one of its most congested areas?

Finally it is becoming clear that the provincial government isn't just building a mental health facility. It's building a Meta Mental Hospital, a space not only for the provision of mental health services but one itself about mental health. The project isn't merely a place for diagnosis and treatment but, erected where it is certain to cause harm, it's also a monument to our pattern idiocy. It will be our very own National House of Delusion.

The new mental health facility, in yellow, will be built on a flood plain in St. John's that includes the Health Sciences Centre, according to this map provided by the City of St. John's. (City of St. John's)

It's the perfect project to twin with the Newfoundland and Labrador Museum of Incompetence and Corruption that is to be constructed on the former Bannerman Park site. Similarly self-reflective, the Museum of Incompetence and Corruption will be poorly built by cronies of the governing party. The design won't be finalized until recommendations coming from a long consultation process are ignored but it is known to feature leaking Tory blue windows, an attached Sprung greenhouse and a magical berm to deflect negative vibes.

An enormous sculpture — titled I Had No Idea — has already been commissioned for the Kenmount Atrium. The artwork depicts a bewildered Kathy Dunderdale riding a Brunette Island bison off a cliff. The bronze is anticipated to be both pricey and hideous and prove so controversial that it will be removed in seven years.

The need for the museum became clear when it was learned the primary villains, bunglers and suckers of the Muskrat Falls project would not be punished for their failings but instead rewarded with severance packages and bonuses. They and other swindlers and users of Newfoundland and Labrador history will be commemorated in the museum's Great Hall of Shame.

Future exhibits dedicated to Alfred Valdmanis, John C. Doyle and the negotiation of the Upper Churchill contract are planned for the Smallwood Room. Also anticipated are an Existential Errors series of shows concerning the predictable environmental catastrophes coming from the importation of bees, open pen salmon farming, bottom dragging and the commercial fishing of capelin.

Part of Prince Philip Drive, which is on the same flood plain the new hospital is being built on, flooded when Hurricane Igor hit Newfoundland in 2010. (CBC)

An exhibit on the disastrous liquidation sale of provincial assets to Hydro-Québec has been scheduled for 2025, and space reserved in the Great Hall of Shame so that those government officials responsible will live forever in ignominy.

The museum will have a hackable website, and a department of communications run by the organization's most inept.

There will be nearby adjunct outdoor exhibits including the Colonial Building and Rawlins Cross after the rejection of the successful experiment as a traffic circle and its return to a counterintuitive clustermathingie. Between sittings of Parliament, powerless Newfoundland and Labrador MPs will stagger through the deadly intersection blindfolded.

Bannerman Park itself will be relocated to the site of the former Waterford Hospital to realize efficiencies from being adjacent Bowring Park.

Construction of the Newfoundland and Labrador Museum of Incompetence and Corruption is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2022.

This, of course, will be delayed to at least 2026.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Edward Riche


Edward Riche writes for the page, stage and screen. He lives in St. John's.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?