Thousands of residents argued that Ottawa Hospital should not receive one of its final approvals to build a new $ 2.8 billion Civic campus, telling city councilors the project still has major problems with excess parking and lost green area.
These two concerns dominated the 53 delegations at a joint meeting in Ottawa City’s planning and erected cultural heritage committees. City staff have advised councilors to approve the local plan.
Staff said councilors should lift restrictions and allow the development of 21 acres of the central experimental farm near the intersection of Carling Avenue and Preston Street. Remaining issues will be addressed as the project progresses through its 10 phases, they suggested.
Some residents see it differently, the planning committee heard Friday.
Karen Wright of the Civic Hospital Neighborhood Association said the city needs to do more proactive work to limit the effects of through traffic and parking in the surrounding area.
Wright suggested more oversight and preventive investigations to consider traffic impacts, and she recommended the county move “H” hospital signs from Parkdale Avenue exits from 417 to Carling / Kirkwood exits.
Paul Saurette of the Dow’s Lake Residents’ Association reiterated support for slowing down the process so that traffic control measures can be in place to reduce the risk of speeding.
“The hospital designs this from scratch, it’s completely predictable. You have experience from the old Civic hospital to guide us,” he said.
Several delegates raised concerns about felling hundreds of trees, many more than 100 years old, to make room for the project.
Overall planning says the hospital is committed to preserving 40 percent of the existing wooden canopy and has committed to replacement planting as well as having a green roof on its four-story parkade, which is part of the first phase of construction.
Diane McIntyre said she was skeptical about the viability of the replacement planting scheme.
“Let’s not pretend we can replace trees on the roof of a building. That’s ridiculous,” she said.
Jason-Emery Groen, the lead architect on the project from HDR, said landscape architects have determined that “thicknesses” of birch can be planted in the parking garage to create a landscape. He said birch is also important for indigenous groups and is used in medicine.
Marion Crowe, the first native appointment to the hospital’s board, said the hospital is trying to find native uses for 533 trees on the site, as well as moving some of the deep-rooted trees to other properties in the National Capital Commission (NCC).
New hospital is required
Ottawa Hospital staff also spoke to the committee about decay and inadequacy on the current Civic campus.
Matt LeBreton, assistant manager at the Civic Intensive Care Unit, said the new facilities would allow the city’s main trauma center to function even better in the event of other mass accidents, e.g. Tornadoes in 2018 or bus accidents in Westboro in 2019.
“A new campus would provide more direct access to the emergency department. It would provide built-in advanced technologies for research and quality improvement,” he said.
“The new campus would allow us to more smoothly transition to our pandemic capacity at the ICU … Our anti-infection infrastructure would be modernized and provide a better patient experience on a daily basis.”
Dow’s Lake resident Niko Flemming, who called in after receiving cancer treatment on the General campus, urged councilors not to delay the improvement of weakening health care infrastructure.
Dr. Jamie Fullerton, chief of staff at Carleton Place Hospital, reminded the committee that the hospital is the only place to have specific procedures for the entire region, and that makes parking availability an important factor.
“Patients and families living in the deeper Ottawa Valley have no public transportation. For better or worse, they need their cars to get to Ottawa Hospital and they have to park them,” Fullerton said.
“Clearly, we need a centrally accessible hospital for all the people of the region.”
Joanne Read, who represents Ottawa Hospital through the application process, said parking is one of the biggest pieces in the design because of Civic’s role as a regional trauma center.
She said some of the surface parking lots are also meant to serve as a staging area for hospitalizing patients if there is a major trauma incident.
The hospital area will have a total of 3,099 parking spaces, two more than the minimum required under the current zoning. They said they are working to make it as easy as possible to access the site by public transport.
The choice to locate the hospital at Dow’s Lake increased anger many a few years ago. Friday’s discussion did not allow councilors to revisit this debate, but several delegates nevertheless returned to it and reiterated their preference for the Tunney’s Pasture site originally proposed by the NCC.
The former Ottawa City Councilman and mayoral candidate reiterated his call for a public inquiry into the local election process, saying it was “criminal” how the public was excluded. Another delegate expressed concern that local taxpayers could pay more for the site because the cost estimate for the project is several years old.
Read said the hospital is still asking for the same amount from the province and is in the process of raising $ 700 million in the community, about half of which comes from fundraising and the rest from a combination of retail sales and parking fees.
She warned further delays in the case could make it harder to compete for provincial funding.
The planning committee will meet again in the case on Monday morning at 9