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Don’t Close Met & Ouellette says CAMPP

"Don't Close Met & Ouellette" reads CAMPP Signs Around Windsor

“Don’t Close Met & Ouellette” reads CAMPP Signs Around Windsor

On Monday, August 13th at 6pm in City Council Chambers, The City of Windsor is holding a special Public Meeting with the Planning Heritage and Economic Development Sanding Committee (PHEDSC) and Windsor City Council to deal the following two amendments:

The applications for the Official Plan Zoning By-law amendments were prepared for Windsor Regional Hospital by MHBC Planning with support from Wood Bull LLP and contributions from other consultants regarding technical matters. This team of experts will provide an overview of the proposed Secondary Plan and answer any questions regarding the proposed amendments.

All of this is required by the City of Windsor for development in this area. This is not an exercise to determine where the new hospital should go or to debate the components of the new system. The site location of the new Acute Care Hospital has been settled. On December 1, 2017 former Minister of Health Eric Hoskins announced that the planning for the new Windsor Essex hospital system was moving forward. The hospital project is now in Stage 2 seeking to develop a functional program which will be a very detailed description of the programs to be delivered, the workload associated with those programs, and the staffing, major equipment and space required.

To a casual observer Monday’s meeting might appear to be “a shootout at the OK Corral” between the City of Windsor Administration and the forces opposed to the location of the new hospital, specifically CAMPP (Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process). But in reality, the meeting will likely be more Shakespearean – Much Ado About Nothing.

The numerous delegations from the CAMPP side are convinced that the hospital site location is not settled and will be arguing for it to be located elsewhere, most notably in the city core. Unfortunately for them, their arguments will not be heard. The debate to be held centres specifically on the two amendments before Council, not WHERE the hospital is to be located. That debate is closed.

The report before Council by the City of Windsor Administration concludes on page 46 0f 47 with:

“Planning Act Matters: I concur with the above comments and opinion of the Registered Professional Planner.:

Michael Cooke, MCIP, RPP Manager,

Planning Policy Thom Hunt, MCIP, RPP City Planner [I am not a registered Planner and have reviewed as a Corporate Team Leader]

SAH, City Solicitor

OC, Chief Administrative Officer “.

CAMPP just recently released their own rebuttal document (Building for the Past) which argues against the City Administration report before council. As one would expect, the report contains positions advanced by their hired guns in opposition to the city’s position. It’s like a good court case where each side provides their own expert witnesses arguing favorably for their side.

My reading of the tea leaves is that the WRH amendments will pass with an 8 to 2 or 7 to 3 vote. Chris Holt, incumbent councillor for ward 4, opposed the levy motion in April 2016 and will also oppose these amendments. I suspect he may be joined by ward 2 councilor, Rino Bortolin. Both councilors have wards in the city core and are strong advocates in terms of protecting their downtown. Outgoing Ward 8 Councilor Bill Marra will again declare a conflict due to this employment with Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare.

I believe that CAMPP also senses defeat (with these two amendments passing). In an urgent distribution email on Thursday, they conclude their message with the following:

We have been advised by land use planning experts and legal counsel that we have an irrefutable argument, because the current plan contravenes both Ontario’s Planning Policy and Windsor’s Official Plan. In spite of the overwhelming evidence, we anticipate that we may need to appeal the August 13th Council decision. We are therefore asking for donations towards our legal costs.”

Nothing like admitting defeat before the first pitch is thrown. CAMPP is already planning to appeal the amendment decisions, not yet dealt with by the Council.

There are many fine members of CAMPP who are passionate about their position and have fought hard to be successful. But the bottom line is, the hospital location is a settled question. In anticipating the city’s approval of the two amendments on Monday night, CAMPP sees their chances for success diminishing.

There are many civic organizations and groups supporting the new regional healthcare system proposed for Windsor – Essex and areas serviced through the Erie St. Clair LHIN (Local Health Integration Network). Both the local governments of the County of Essex and the City of Windsor and local MPPs are all united in their support as well.

If CAMPP follows through on appealing Monday night’s decision – if the amendments pass, the battle is not going to get any easier for them. It must’ve been crushing for them to read that on July 18, 2018 Premiere Ford appointed through an Order In Council, Dr. Reuben Devlin to be the Chair of a new Premier’s Council on Improving Health Care & Ending Hallway Medicine and Special Advisor on Ending Hallway Medicine. Who is this new health czar appointed by Ford? None other than he former CEO of Humber River Hospital who presided over the closure of three entire hospitals. The three were replaced with one large privatized P3 Megahospital. Sound familiar? He is the same person who applauded the work being done in Windsor Essex in terms of public consultation, community engagement and transparency.

On January 26, 2016 Dr. Devlin was joined in Windsor by Lucy Brun, a healthcare facility planner and Partner with Agnew Peckham, who has a wealth of experience in the field of healthcare design. Brun shared her observations on what she has seen happen in the Windsor process:

“in no community that I know of, anywhere in Canada, has there been such an extensive process. From the people on that site selection committee and how that committee was chosen, to the development of the criteria and how many criteria there were to the input from the community on what the criteria should be. In other communities, it’s basically somebody offers a site and that’s where the hospital’s going… It is unprecedented from the experience that I’ve had in healthcare planning for the last 32 years”.

Responding to the opposition of some Windsor-Essex residents to the site location of the new hospital, Devlin offered:

“If there is a hospital that got 100% unanimity within the community, I would like to see that hospital, because that is not happening. Different people have different ideas. It is really what we think is in the best interest of the future and we try to talk to as many people as possible. And we had some great ideas. We had great ideas from the community, we had great ideas from our staff and physicians and we just tried to embrace all those ideas.”

Again, kudos to CAMPP and other groups who have had a strong voice in this process. At times I believe their message wasn’t as clear as it should be. While they opposed the CR42 site for the hospital, they did not oppose the GEM property that was initially being looked at near Lauzon and Tecumseh. They argued that the former site was too far away for west end residents. Yet, do a Google time and distance search on the two locations and you will see that the County Road 42 property beats the GEM property for west end residents for time and distance.

Another message that seems muddled by CAMPP is what do they really support? Do they support a new Regional Acute Care Hospital? CAMPP time and again has indicated that they supported it, just not at the location chosen. But then their latest sign campaign, “Don’t Close Met & Ouellette” contradicts that position. By arguing that Met and Ouellette campuses remain open precludes the possibility of a new mega hospital. It is the classic case of “suck and blow.” You can’t do both at once.

I have long argued that CAMPP would have been better off spending the money they receive in donations on conducting a scientific poll to gauge where residents are on this issue. To me, this would have been more fruitful than littering the landscape with lawn signs and billboards. If such a poll had been conducted by them, and it demonstrated a majority of residents opposed to the County road 42 site, that may have been a game changer. As it is, the only polling we have on the location comes from two media sources after the final site selection and it showed about 70% of the respondents in favor of the location.

So, friends, now is the time for members of CAMPP to get on board with other residents of Windsor and Essex and work together to ensure that we all get what we deserve – a new state-of-the-art Acute Care Hospital, to service us for decades to come.

If you have comments please feel free to leave them below and I will get back to you.