CAMPP leave to appeal rejected, hospital project to proceed

Windsor Regional Hospital plans to build an urgent care centre at the old Grace Hospital site on University and Crawford, July 16, 2015. (Photo by Jason Viau)

Windsor-Essex’s mega-hospital project has been cleared to move forward.

A leave to appeal filed by the Citizens for an Accountable Mega-Hospital Planning Process (CAMPP), a grassroots group opposed to the location of the new acute-care hospital, was denied Thursday by an Ontario Divisional Court judge. During a Zoom conference Thursday evening, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Essex County Warden Gary McNamara confirmed the decision, thus paving the way for Phase Two of the project to proceed.

The decision was reached Wednesday evening, but with a 24-hour embargo.

Following a two-day hearing, Justice Gregory Verbeem issued the 47-page ruling, which stated that CAMPP failed to prove that the hospital location would de detrimental to the region, and the motion for leave to appeal was dismissed. The decision allows the city of Windsor and Windsor Regional Hospital to collect $25,000 plus taxes in legal fees and court costs.

“Each of its proposed grounds of appeal was without merit,” stated Verbeem in his decision.

The mayor said that now is the time to stop the squabbling over the location and come together for the sake of bringing much-needed health care quality to the region.

“Our community has now been through the time and expense of a review to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), as well as the Divisional Court, and the time has come for us to move forward as a region united,” said Dilkens.

Dilkens reported that $10-million on funding is now being sought to complete Phase Two of the hospital project, which will be built on Highway 42 near Windsor Airport.

McNamara said he had complete confidence that the time put into finding an ideal location for the new hospital has been well-spent.

“It is a great day for the residents of Windsor and Essex County, and a great day for health care in our region,” said McNamara. “We have long maintained that the County Road 42 location site was optimal for this diverse and growing region.”

Proponents of the hospital location say it was the best for a regional hospital, with the space needed to provide area residents with care that they would otherwise have to go to London, Toronto, or the Detroit area to receive. Opponents, such as CAMPP, said the site was too far from Windsor’s downtown core and the city’s vulnerable population, and the city did not do its due diligence when choosing the County Road 42 site.

Eric Gillespie, the lawyer who guided CAMPP’s first appeal of the city’s zoning decision to build the hospital, as well as the divisional court appeal, hinted in a statement provided by CAMPP that the fight is not over.

“The decision is somewhat difficult to reconcile with some of the existing decisions. As a result, we will be continuing to review the case,” said Gillespie.

While he acknowledged that the decision regarding the appeal to leave is final, Gillespie indicated that the divisional court is open to appeals on other matters.

“As is done in the normal course of any case such as this, we will be advising our client regarding its appeal options. A decision regarding any appeal will be announced once it has been reached, which will be shortly,” said Gillespie.