WINDSOR, ONT. -- A justice of Ontario’s Superior Court has ruled the request for leave to appeal by the Citizens for An accountable Megahospital Planning process (CAMPP) has been denied, clearing a major legal hurdle to getting the new Windsor-Essex acute care hospital built.

“They were denied today with this decision of the judge, which is great news for the city and the county this means the entire region is another step forward to getting this project built,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

It’s been five years since the proposed new acute care hospital was announced at County Road 42 and Concession Road 9 in southeast Windsor.

In 2018, Windsor’s council voted to rezone those lands for a mix of residential and commercial uses — as well as the new hospital.

CAMPP appealed that decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, but was later struck down.

The group then requested a leave to appeal a decision of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal over the proposed location of the hospital.

Justice Gregory J. Verbeem heard arguments from city and hospital lawyers, as well as lawyers for CAMPP in May, delivering his decision to all parties on Wednesday.

“It’s me paraphrasing, but he’s pretty clear to say there were no merits to this appeal,” said Dilkens.

Justice Verbeem was asked to consider four grounds of appeal:

  • Did LPAT err in law by finding the proposed OPA and ZBA complied with the requirements of the provincial policy statement and the city’s official plan regarding the provision of emergency services?
  • Did the LPAT err in law by finding sufficient consultation with First Nations took place as required under the provincial policy statement and the city’s official plan?
  • Did the LPAT err in law by failing to provide reasons addressing issues relating to the provincial policy statement and official plan and submissions advanced by CAMPP regarding climate change impacts?
  • Did the LPAT err in law by relying on expert evidence provided by the city conflicting with other evidence provided by the city, that was never resolved?

In response, Justice Verbeem states, “In my view, CAMPP has failed to demonstrate that leave to appeal should be granted with respect to any of the grounds of appeal that it proposes. As a result, its motion must be dismissed.”

“CAMPP is at the end of the line in terms of their appeal, now we’re at the point where we need to get the project moving forward,” says Dilkens. “I get that there was a disgruntled group in the community who feels this is not the right location for the hospital. We are past that debate and now it’s about how we get that hospital built.”

Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for CAMPP, responded to the decision in a statement Thursday evening, saying it is "difficult to reconcile" based on existing decisions and they will continue to review the case.

He added that court rulings on other matters can be appealed to the Divisional Court, “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(s) will be announced once it has been reached, which will be shortly."

Dilkens says there’s still a long road ahead, which could include another appeal to a three-member panel.

After that, the province must unlock about $10 million for the next phase of planning, a process that could take another two years.

“It’s important for me, it’s important for the warden that we get this project cemented into the provincial budget that we get the money we need to move forward with the planning process here and the design and development of the hospital.“

In a statement to CTV News, Windsor Regional Hospital president and CEO David Musyj says, “We are excited to move forward on this vitally important project to create a modern health system for Windsor and Essex County, and look forward to next steps on the road to a new state-of-the-art acute care hospital.”

Dilkens said Premier Doug Ford will be in Windsor in two weeks and funding for the new hospital will be at the top of his list.

“We need to come together now, put our heads together and rally around the fact that we need this $2B investment,” the mayor says.

Initial requests for comment from CAMPP leaders and lawyers were not successful.