Ottawa Hospital board rejects Tunney's Pasture as site for new Civic campus
Hospital board says Tunney's Pasture 'not a win' for patients
The Ottawa Hospital's board of governors voted Monday night to reject the National Capital Commission's recommendation that a new Civic campus be located at Tunney's Pasture.
The hospital has pushed for nearly a decade to build a new Civic campus on the Central Experimental Farm, across the road from the current location, and hospital executives were surprised the NCC chose a site they didn't even consider to be a contender.
In a statement posted to the hospital's website Tuesday afternoon, board chair James McCracken described the choice of Tunney's as "not a win for patients."
The board is concerned about the cost of demolishing the existing buildings at Tunney's, road access for people driving sick relatives to the site, and the timeline for completing the project.
The statement also said that "after hearing from the patients and citizens of the National Capital Region and eastern Ontario, and after completing our own analysis of the NCC report, we cannot in good faith support Tunney's Pasture as the future location for the Civic Campus."
"It's very important that we get the right site and make the right decision, and not be rushed into a making a decision that we will regret in the future," McCracken told CBC News.
Decision always up to hospital
Last Thursday the NCC's board recommended that Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly offer 20 hectares on the western half of Tunney's Pasture to the hospital as a site for a new Civic campus. However, it was always up to the hospital to decide whether to accept the land.
McCracken acknowledged that the Ottawa Hospital did not meet with the minister before holding its special board meeting, where 13 board members voted unanimously to reject the NCC's recommendation.
"This was not taken lightly. This was something that was given considerable discussion and study before we took this move," said McCracken.
But while the hospital board has rejected the NCC's choice of Tunney's Pasture, it still hopes to persuade Joly to offer federal land, for a nominal fee, on the Central Experimental Farm.
There has been some vocal criticism of the NCC's choice of Tunney's. And late Tuesday local Liberal MPPs piled on, releasing a statement that calls for the recommendation to be "reconsidered." On Monday, Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod asked provincial Health Minister Eric Hoskins to intervene in the site selection process, but he declined.
The NCC responded to the board's news by saying it will formally submit its choice of Tunney's to Joly tomorrow, which was the deadline for its recommendation.
NCC releases response
In its own statement released late Tuesday, the NCC defended its land review process as "open and transparent," adding that it "included extensive public and stakeholder consultations, and was informed by the most recent data provided by authorities at all levels of government, including the Ottawa Hospital."
The hospital was originally offered 24 hectares of land at the Central Experimental Farm two years ago by then cabinet minister John Baird.
Critics complained that decision was made behind closed doors, and without public consultation.
According to NCC officials, Ottawa Hospital executives had been invited to discuss their concerns, but the two groups have not met since Thursday's announcement by the NCC's board.
- With files from Kate Porter