Ottawa

Reaction mixed after Tunney's Pasture revealed as NCC's top pick for new Civic hospital

Residents and politicians are weighing in after the National Capital Commission announced the western half of Tunney's Pasture as its preferred site for the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital.

Tunney's Pasture was not among Ottawa Hospital's top picks for new Civic campus

The National Capital Commission recommends building a new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital on the western half of the Tunney's Pasture complex (the area outlined in white). The federal government's long-term plan was to divest itself of that land. (NCC)

While some are celebrating the National Capital Commission's selection of the western half of Tunney's Pasture as its preferred site for the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital, others question the cost and timeline of moving federal government departments and demolishing the current buildings. 

The NCC came up with a list of 12 possible locations on federally-owned lands in the National Capital Region after heavy criticism over plans to build on Central Experimental Farm lands. The list included four sites on the Central Experimental Farm.

Residents weigh in after the National Capital Commission announced the western half of Tunney's Pasture as its preferred site for the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital. 0:29

Not hospital's top choice

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, whose riding of Ottawa–Centre includes the Central Experimental Farm and the aging Civic hospital campus, applauded the NCC's choice for protecting the green space and for remaining in the downtown core in a spot "easily accessible by public transit."

Ottawa Coun. Jeff Leiper, whose ward includes Tunney's Pasture, said in a statement that "it will take some time to digest the NCC's analysis, and to talk to residents about their reaction to this news."

There is currently a Transitway bus stop at Tunney's Pasture, where there will be a light rail station once the second phase of the Confederation Line is complete.

While Leiper noted that mass transit is meant to reduce residents' reliance on cars, he also pointed out that a new hospital will create added pressure for traffic and parking in a neighbourhood that already faces congestion.

Leiper also questioned how a new hospital could affect the city's plan for a complete street — designed for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and transit users — on Scott Street.

The Ottawa Hospital said in a statement Thursday that Tunney's Pasture "was not among the top-rated sites" in its 2008 and 2016 reports, citing traffic issues as well as cost and timelines due to the need to relocate federal government departments and demolish current structures. 

The Ottawa Hospital said it would be reviewing the entire NCC report in the coming weeks before commenting further.

'Terrible location,' Poilievre says

In November 2014, former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird announced the government would offer 24 hectares of the Central Experimental Farm to the Ottawa Hospital for a new Civic campus. But with mounting criticism over the lack of consultation to build on a federal green space — and a new Liberal government — the plan was halted and placed under review.

The NCC board voted to recommend the 20-hectare Tunney's Pasture site on Thursday, though the vote was not unanimous. The board is expected to officially recommend the site to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly in the next week.

Joly said Thursday she was pleased the recommendations came after the NCC undertook an open public consultation with residents of Ottawa. She added that "time is of the essence" with this project.

But Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who represents the riding of Carleton, said the previous Conservative government followed the lead of The Ottawa Hospital, which "came up with the best possible location" when it selected part of the Central Experimental Farm situation across the street from the current Civic campus.

He called Tunney's Pasture a "terrible location" that was twice rejected by hospital's expert panel in reports in both 2008 and 2016.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre and Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly weigh in after the National Capital Commission announced the western half of Tunney's Pasture as its preferred site for the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital. 2:04