Windsor throws support behind mega-hospital location

Windsor Regional Hospital announces that purchase of land from the Lafferty family for the new acute care hospital, October 16, 2020. Photo submitted by Windsor Regional Hospital.

The City of Windsor has thrown its support behind the location of the region’s new acute-care hospital.

Following a virtual meeting that went on for hours Monday, Windsor City Council voted to support the County Road 42 location of the hospital, as well as the planning and construction of the $2 billion facility.

Councillors pored over a hundred written submissions from both sides of the contentious issue before voting. Mayor Drew Dilkens expressed relief that the project will move forward.

“I thank everyone who contributed to the robust discussion about our proposed new regional acute care hospital,” said Dilkens via Twitter Monday night. “We are calling on the Ontario government to prioritize and expedite funding so our new modern hospital system can move forward. We are committed. We are ready.”

Members of the grassroots group CAMPP (Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process) were hoping that the new makeup of city council may change the outcome of the vote. The group submitted a 37-page report reiterating its main points against the hospital location. Among them was a perceived impact on healthcare access for the city’s more vulnerable people. While acknowledging the construction jobs that come with the project, CAMPP charged that the rural location won’t work.

“It will lead to the permanent loss of 5,000-plus healthcare jobs in Windsor’s established neighbourhoods. Relocating jobs is different than creating thousands of new ones,” read the report. “The selected rural hospital location, if approved by the province of Ontario to move forward, will be the single worst planning mistake in Windsor’s history.”

CAMPP had filed two unsuccessful appeals of the location, one before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), and the second before an Ontario Divisional Court judge, which threw out the leave-of-appeal. Both bodies indicated that CAMPP failed to adequately prove the project would harm the region.

The project has received overwhelming support from all Windsor-Essex mayors, plus numerous businesspeople and labour leaders. The sale of the parcel of land the hospital will sit on was finalized last month.

Stage Two of the planning process will proceed once the provincial government signs off on the funding. Premier Doug Ford had called the mega-hospital project the region’s number-one infrastructure and health care priority.