Windsor council approves land rezoning for mega hospital
It was a jam-packed nine-hour meeting at Windsor City Hall as council approved the rezoning of the new $2-billion mega hospital on County Road 42 near the airport.
But the fight may not be over.
Council voted 8-2 in favour of rezoning the land for the hospital, but the Sandwich South Planning District also opens up 400 hectares of land for future residential and commercial needs.
Only Rino Bortolin and Chris Holt voted against the approval. Councillor Bill Marra declared a conflict of interest since he works for Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare.
During the marathon meeting, a 500-page report from the city was debated as well as a 50-page rebuttal from advocacy group, CAMPP. There were 36 additional written submissions, and 63 listed delegates who spoke at the meeting.
Critics argued the city's 500-page report featured flawed projections for future job and population growth.
“Good planning matters, but Windsor has a history of ignoring it,” stated Philippa Von Ziegenweidt of CAMPP. “On the eve of a huge demographic shift, voting yes on these two motions will be Windsor's biggest mistake yet."
“The location of the new acute care hospital site has been determined by the process to be the best location to serve the future healthcare needs of the most vulnerable citizens in our community, the patient,” said Karl Straky.
One by one, residents lined up to speak for or against the project and the majority of the delegates spoke against the proposed hospital location.
One of the loudest voices was suspended local Doctor Albert Kadri.
“If there is really only going to be one hospital, it definitely should not be outside the major population centre in a way that jeopardizes the health and safety of so many people," said Kadri.
Councillor Holt originally tried to have the motion deferred until after the municipal election, but his motion was defeated.
“I want a $2-billion investment in our community. I want that. I think the people in this community deserve better healthcare,” said mayor Drew Dilkens.
But even though council approved the rezoning, Von Ziegenweidt says the Citizens for an Accountable Mega-Hospital Planning Process (CAMPP) will launch an appeal of the decision to the newly formed local planning appeal tribunal.
It will be on the grounds that the decision doesn't comply with planning principles.
Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says he will now speak to the new Ontario Health Minister to talk about the next steps for the project.
He adds their plan will not move forward without an urgent care centre downtown. But they have yet to decide whether it will be located at the Grace site or at the Ouellette campus.