Heritage minister asks NCC to mull more sites for Civic hospital move
Mélanie Joly gives NCC 6 months to assess prospective federal lands
Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has asked the National Capital Commission to review all federally owned sites within its jurisdiction to determine the best site for a new Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital.
"As the federal Crown Corporation responsible for coordinating the development of federal lands in the National Capital Region, the NCC will conduct a thorough review of prospective sites for the new Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital," said NCC chief executive Mark Kristmanson in an emailed statement.
Over the next few weeks, the NCC will develop a plan including public consultation, and expects to make a recommendation in six months. The issue is to be discussed at the NCC board meeting on June 28.
The hospital's preferred site for a new 60-acre Civic is across from the current Carling Avenue campus. But that land is a key research field at the Central Experimental Farm, which is a National Historic Site and the location of the second-oldest agricultural research land in the world.
Land handed to hospital in 2014
The issue has become increasingly controversial ever since former MP John Baird handed the land to the hospital in 2014 in a decision made behind closed doors.
After public outcry, the federal government told the hospital to re-evaluate its options for relocating the Civic, and to consider the impact on research at the farm.
The hospital went back to the drawing board, but only looked at four short-listed locations that met its own criteria. Three of those are on the Experimental Farm, while the fourth is at Tunney's Pasture.
However, a spokesperson for Joly told CBC News that the NCC is to consider all federal land in the capital region as a possible location for a new Civic campus, not just the four top sites named by the hospital.
Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre, the sole local Conservative MP, said the NCC "is not equipped" to make a decision on where a hospital should be located as it is responsible "for neither farming research nor health care."
"To announce a 'review' is an obvious face-saving attempt to avoid admitting that John Baird got the location right in the first place. Now we are wasting time and money trying to avoid that inconvenient truth," Poilievre said.
With files from Stu Mills