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Council greenlights site master plan for new Civic Hospital

By October 13, 2021March 1st, 2022Site plan

The goal is to commission the $2.8 billion facility by 2028.

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City Council approved a site master plan for The Ottawa Hospital’s new Civic Campus, another hurdle now cleared in the hospital’s quest to get the $2.8 billion facility operational for 2028.

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By then, the current Civic on Carling Avenue will be over a century behind its opening date. Hospital officials and affiliates have emphasized the need and benefits of a contemporary, state-of-the-art regional hospital, and there appears to be little disagreement in this regard.

But the journey to Civic 2.0 has not been smooth, with controversy over site selection in the rear-view mirror, some lingering dissatisfaction over elements of the hospital plan, and debates to come over exactly how to link the hospital to the city’s light rail transit system. , and other aspects of the site.

City staff recommended approval of the master plan, concluding that it demonstrated that transportation, parking, LRT access, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, built heritage and other matters “have been carefully considered and designed”. Some components will still need to be fine-tuned, staff said, as the hospital submits site plan control requests to implement the various phases of the project (the master plan outlines 10 extending to 2048).

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Staff will have delegated authority to approve such requests unless a ward councilor decides to revoke it, planner Sean Moore explained Wednesday. That said, staff have already committed to presenting the site plan control application for the hospital parking garage – part of the first phase of development – ​​to the planning committee for approval.

Council voted 19-4 Wednesday in favor of the master plan, with councilors Jeff Leiper, Shawn Menard, Rawlson King and Catherine McKenney opposing it.

“I think as a city we need to ask for better in this case,” Menard said, sharing his belief that the plan falls short when it comes to SLR integration and parking plans and that there are better alternative designs for the site footprint that would reduce the loss of trees and green space and improve the transit experience.

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Stephen Willis, the city’s general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development, said the hospital’s architects carried out several iterations of the site layout, taking into account considerations such as the distance needed from to a railway line to avoid interference with medical instruments, geotechnical problems and protection. of trees currently on the site.

“Our staff regularly challenged them, as did the (National Capital Commission) staff, about their setup, and they presented this as the best arrangement for the needs of health care delivery in establishment,” Willis said.

For his part, Mayor Jim Watson refuted nearly every argument against the hospital’s current plan: the significant cost and other hurdles associated with burying the planned parking lot; TOH’s commitments to green and public spaces, tree preservation, and replanting five trees for every tree felled; the need for on-site parking for hospital users; and plan provisions for direct and weather-protected LRT connectivity, transport monitoring and a transport demand management plan.

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“I believe that after 14 years of planning, we are finally in a position to move this file forward and help bring this new world-class hospital to Ottawa,” said Mr. Watson. He told his fellow board members “there are municipalities across Ontario that would be happy to receive these coveted and scarce health care funds to build a hospital in their community.”

Ahead of the Planning Committee’s vote on the site’s master plan earlier this month, Joanne Read, TOH’s Executive Vice President and Chief Planning and Development Officer, was asked what would happen next. it was not immediately approved.

Ms. Read said she thought the project’s construction and completion timelines would be in jeopardy and was also concerned that TOH was the only one “knocking on the province’s door” over funding.

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Committee members tempered their approval of the site’s master plan by asking staff to work with TOH on elements of cycling infrastructure, tree planting and a substantial reduction in surface parking.

Regional Councilor Leiper also obtained approval to require certain conditions of a neighborhood traffic study and that the TOH fund recommended mitigation efforts based on this study.

Staff were also tasked with ensuring that the internal road network proposed for the new Civic could accommodate local transit services and that site lighting met certain conditions.

All board members, including Watson, approved a board proposal. Riley Brockington will ask Watson to write to federal cabinet ministers, new MP for Ottawa Center Yasir Naqvi and National Capital Commission Board Chair calling for federal legislation to ensure long-term land protection remains of the Central Experimental Farm and a new master plan for the farm.

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Naqvi pledged during the election campaign to introduce a law to protect the farm in perpetuity.

Paul Saurette, a member of the Dows Lake Residents Association’s special committee on the new hospital, called the committee members’ motions “very genuine and constructive attempts at problem solving” and said the association is looking forward to it. to partner with the city and the hospital for, for example, the planned neighborhood traffic study.

Karen Wright, president of the Civic Hospital Neighborhood Association, shared a similar mindset on Wednesday and said her association would remain engaged with any upcoming site plans. Already, she and other community association officials have met with the hospital to go over details of planned parking.

The site plan control app will be available on the city’s website in the coming weeks, according to Moore, the planner, and residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback.

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