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City Council Votes To Support Funding New Mega Hospital

Monday December 21st, 2015, 11:39pm

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Mega hospital rendering

The decision to fund a mandatory 10% of Windsor-Essex’s new mega hospital has moved forward.

City council deliberated over a four hour period whether to consider raising $200 million, but the topic of funding was often lost in a discussion about the already-decided-on location of the new hospital.

Mayor Drew Dilkens initially attempted to keep the discussion on the topic of funding, but allowed the location debate to continue. Dilkens noted having received many emails over the weekend, but stated the purpose of today’s meeting was not to choose the location of the hospital, but to agree or disagree on supporting funding.

Mega hospital steering committee co-chair Dave Cooke said for health care reasons and economical issues it made more sense to move forward with a new hospital. He noted that a study some years back revealed a renovation of Hotel Dieu Downtown would have cost around $1 billion, and to rebuild Met hospital on its parking lot, the total for two hospitals would have been over two billion dollars.

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj noted that the new hospital, compared to the existing two hospitals, will have a 45% increase in square footage. He said the current buildings occupy 1.1 million square feet, while the new hospital will be comprised of 1.6 million square feet.

Musyj said in order to move to the next phase, a commitment would need to be made.

“We have to show the province we’re serious about this project and moving forward,” he said.

However Citizens for an Accountable Mega-Hospital Planning Process spokesperson Philippa von Ziegenweidt said the process needs more citizen input.

“It is so frustratingly undemocratic that council has refused to hear from its constituents,” said von Ziegenweidt.

She asked how Ward 2 councillor John Elliott could support the new hospital which will be 20km from where his constituents reside and noted, “80% of Windsor residents will live further away [from the new hospital] than their current locations.”

Von Ziegenweidt pointed to the city’s written plans which she said stress core development and the redevelopment of brown-fields. She asked why the hospital was being built on undeveloped land and in an area in which the city’s plan says should not be developed until a city population increase warrants it.

However she said her group does support a new hospital.

“But what makes no sense at all is rushing the decision today,” she said.

Councillor Irek Kusmercziuk called the process of adding hospital decisions to the budget debate with mere days in advance “not right”.

After hours of discussion, councillor Fred Francis moved to agree to funding the hospital in principle, and to negotiate the split of funding dollars with the county.

The motion passed.

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