Brian Yeomans, chair of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, speaks with media about their contributuon to the CAMPP legal fund on March 14, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Windsor’s heart “beats for everybody”

The fight to get a decision changed regarding Windsor-Essex’s new mega-hospital┬áhas a new ally.

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association has announced that it will make a contribution toward the legal expenses made necessary by the appeal process begun by the group CAMPP (Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process).

New DWBIA chairman Brian Yeomans said the association is donating $5,000 to the GoFundMe account set up by CAMPP to help cover its legal expenses as it takes its appeal case to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). During a media conference Thursday afternoon, Yeomans said the DWBIA’s main concern is its member businesses in the core, and that moving the hospital out of the downtown area will have an adverse domino effect.

“Why do you think the labs, specialists and clinics opened across from the hospital?” asked Yeomans. “So if you move the hospital, what do you think is going to happen to those specialists, labs and clinics? It’s obvious. So yes, we are very concerned about it.”

Windsor City Council voted last summer to approve rezoning for a large patch of land on County Road 42 for the building of a new mega-hospital. Ward 3 councillor Rino Bortolin, who sits on the new DWBIA board, was one of the two no-votes on the plan.

The city says the location is ideal for the generation of new business in that area and will create jobs in the long run. The city also says there is no evidence the mega-hospital will have an adverse effect on the downtown core.

CAMPP, while agreeing that the region needs a new mega-hospital, says the city used incomplete and outdated information to base its decision on and it is concerned about the planned hospital’s distance from much of Windsor’s vulnerable population. It has retained respected urban planner Jennifer Keesmaat as an expert witness in its appeal before the LPAT.

Supporters of the mega-hospital location, particularly Windsor Regional Hospital president and CEO David Musyj, have urged CAMPP to stop fighting the process and work with them to address their concerns, and that the planned location is no longer up for discussion. The DWBIA’s Yeomans, however, says it’s important to understand that downtown Windsor remains the economical and spiritual centre of the region.

“We are the heart of the whole county,” said Yeomans. “The other cities such as Cottam and Harrow and Kingsville rely on Windsor being the heart, and it does beat for everybody.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe page has raised over $28,600 toward a $100,000 goal.

The first LPAT case management conference is set for Wednesday, March 20 at 11 a.m. at Windsor City Hall. The conference is open to the public.