Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens makes a point as Essex County Warden Gary McNamara and area representatives in labour and business look on at City Hall, May 17, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Dilkens: BIAs’ financial support of CAMPP appeal may be illegal

Windsor’s mayor and the Essex County Warden say there is a “silent majority” of those in support of the new hospital location.

Accompanied by members of the Windsor-Essex business and labour communities, Mayor Drew Dilkens and Warden Gary McNamara met with reporters at Windsor City Hall Friday afternoon, expressing their unconditional support of the current zoning plan to build a new acute care hospital on County Road 42.

At the same time, Dilkens said a report was coming out that will soon go before city council, indicating concerns over some local business improvement associations providing financial support for the appeal by CAMPP (Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process), which is raising money for a legal defence as it goes before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to get the zoning plan overturned.

The mayor said these BIAs, which have budgets subject to city council approval, may be in violation of the Ontario Municipal Act.

“This could mean the dissolution of the boards by city council, that is the ultimate option, or council to opt to reduce each BIA’s budget,” said Dilkens.

The mayor said this report is coming out now to allow the BIAs supporting the appeal a chance to reconsider backing it financially.

A special city council meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers, though as of Friday afternoon, there was nothing on the agenda concerning the BIAs’ support of the CAMPP appeal. However, an item concerning budget approval for the city’s BIAs is on the agenda for the May 27 meeting.

Dilkens and McNamara said it is also important that the provincial government see that the vast majority of businesses in the area support the hospital plan and that failure to express this support may result in the government rethinking any financial backing for the mega-hospital.

McNamara, who is also the mayor of Tecumseh, said people on both sides of the issue had more than ample opportunity to express how they felt about where the hospital is set to go.

“More than 70, and I repeat that 70 town hall meetings and information sessions to gather community input,” said McNamara. “The process was actually praised by the Ministry of Health as a model for our community engagement when siting the hospital.”

While they agree a new acute-care hospital is needed, CAMPP has been opposed to the County Road 42 location, claiming it will deprive inner-city residents of accessible health care and encourage urban sprawl. They also say city council used incorrect or outdated data to justify their decision to support the hospital zoning.

A GoFundMe page set up to collect money for their legal representation has raised over $56,000 so far.