County residents 'insulted' by city debate over mega-hospital

Some Windsorites were not pleased about the rezoning of farmland for the new mega-hospital pass on Monday, but people living in the county are cheering for a closer hospital.

'In fact, some of them felt quite insulted,' County warden describes residents' reactions to Windsor council

Lakeshore mayor and County of Essex warden Tom Bain says his residents are 'pleased' that city council passed the rezoning for the mega-hospital land. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Some Windsorites will no longer be able to walk to the emergency room when the new mega-hospital is built near Windsor International Airport, but people in Essex County are pleased for a shorter drive.

"My residents said, 'I've got to travel 30 kilometres to get to the hospital [currently],'" said county warden Tom Bain.

He's received phone calls from people reacting to the dozens of people speaking at the latest Windsor city council meeting, many of whom were opposed to the rezoning of the farmland for the hospital project.

"In fact, some of them felt quite insulted when they heard such things as 'they're living out in the sticks,'" he said.

Monday's city council saw more than 50 public delegates for the mega-hospital rezoning. The decision was made at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

The $2-billion project will be built on County Road 42. Windsor city council approved the rezoning 8-2 after a nine-hour meeting, bringing the project one step closer to completion.

While the city has a population of more than 200,000 people, Bain said the county isn't far behind with more than 180,000.

"And we're paying half the bills," he said.

While the rezoning has been passed, Windsor city council may see an appeal from Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process, an organization that has been vocal in its opposition to moving the hospital farther from the city's core.

But the president and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital hopes that appeal will move quickly.

"It is a very solid plan, in the best interest of the city, with conservative projections with respect to numbers.  I expect the appeal will be quick and we can go ahead and close on the property," said David Musyj in a statement.

CAMPP spokesperson Philippa von Ziegenweidt says the organization has identified things that don't comply with the planning policy and the city's official plan. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

And aside from the location being more accessible for county residents, people are hoping the mega-hospital will offer some services currently not available at the city locations.

With files from Meg Roberts