National Capital Commission restarting site selection for Ottawa Hospital relocation

The NCC will consider previously-reviewed sites and may consider new sites as it tries to find a location for the new Ottawa Hospital Civic campus.

Experts to recommend site in November after considering previously-reviewed and new sites

Alternate sites for The Ottawa Hospital's new Civic campus are now being considered. (Google Maps)

People who opposed The Ottawa Hospital's plan to expand into the Central Experimental Farm are applauding the National Capital Commission's review of sites for a new location, a decision that was approved Tuesday.

"This is probably the conversation we should have had about the hospital years ago," said Leslie Maitland, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect the Central Experimental Farm.

The Ottawa Hospital was criticized for a lack of consultation when it tried to secure its preferred location on a research field of the Central Experimental Farm, across from its current location.

The federal Liberals reversed the previous governments approval of the plan in May. Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly asked the NCC to review all federal land within its jurisdiction to find the best site.

A committee of two NCC board members, two architects and a heritage expert will review nine of the 12 sites that were considered in 2007, when The Ottawa Hospital first decided to look for a location. The other three of those sites have already been put to other uses. The committee can also consider new sites.

Stephen Willis, executive director for capital planning, told the NCC board the panel will weigh the urgent need for a hospital in Ottawa, the requirements of The Ottawa Hospital and the city's planning priorities.

The NCC will also hear from advocacy groups such as Friends of the Farm and Heritage Ottawa, as well as community associations representing the areas where sites are considered. 

Leslie Maitland, with the Coalition to Protect the Central Experimental Farm, says their ultimate goal is to protect the farm's research. (CBC)

"We're confident that the process has now been unleashed to come to an informed opinion," Maitland said. "If it ends up on the experimental farm, very likely we'll be looking at some kind of compromise location like the site of the Sir John Carling building at Carling and Preston."

'All of this work is going to cost taxpayers'

Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre said Ottawa can't afford any more delays to repair and replace the Civic hospital, and that the NCC committee is just re-doing the work of the hospital's expert panel from 2007.

"So far, all they're telling us is that they're going to review the sites that were already rejected by the hospital and they're going to consider yet-unnamed sites that no one knows about," Poilievre said. "All of the staff time and the bureaucracy that will be necessary to re-do all of this work is going to cost taxpayers. It will probably be a lot more than the NCC estimates right now."

The NCC estimates the study will cost between $350,000 and $400,000.

"We can't calculate the value of the research that's come out of field number one," said Maitland, in reference to the previously selected site. "For instance, Canada is one of the world's leading producers of soy and our market of soy, which was developed on that specific acreage, is worth $2 billion a year. That's a new hospital every year."

The NCC board is expected to receive an update on stakeholder consultations in September ahead of online public consultation. The committee will present its recommendations on Nov. 21.

Possible sites

  • Central Experimental Farm: across from the existing Civic campus.
  • Central Experimental Farm: at Baseline Road and Fisher Avenue.
  • Central Experimental Farm: at 930 Carling Ave., the site of the former Sir John Carling Building, which was demolished in 2014.
  • The western half of Tunney's Pasture.
  • NCC land at Woodroffe Avenue and Hunt Club Road, across from the Nepean Sportsplex.
  • Hurdman Station.
  • Canada Post at Confederation Heights: at Riverside Drive and Heron Road.
  • Booth Street Complex.
  • Hunt Club Road south corridor.
This is a map showing four of the potential site plans for the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital. (CBC News)