Planning the New Hospital (2)

May 2021

The design for the new Civic hospital has been revealed, an event that was widely covered in the media. It was presented to Ottawa’s Finance and Economic Development Committee on May 4, 2021.

Remarkably, two letters to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen continue to decry the choice of location instead of Field No. 1.

June-July 2021

On June 29, the City held a 2-hour consultation session on the “Master Site Plan Control” application by TOH. All documents are available here:

Prior to the session, on June 15, the Greenspace Alliance had sent in a comment, touching on the loss of trees, the functionality of the new Queen Juliana Park above the parking structure, the historic hedge collection, the amount of parking and integration with the public transit system.

Also sent in prior to the public meeting were comments by the Glebe Community Association and the Glebe Annex Community Association. GCA expresses concern about the removal of 680 trees while GACA raises issues of accessibility/modes of transport, parking, and trees and wildlife habitat.

Bike Ottawa, on June 18, looked at the proposed active transportation options and finds them wanting. (In a 2-part follow-up blog on August 23, Bike Ottawa took a very granular look at the issue: Part 1 | Part 2.)

Here is what the Friends of the Farm “need to know” about the plans. They express concern about the expanded footprint of the project, the functionality of the park above the parking garage, traffic circulation that protects the Farm, the adequacy of buffer zones, the number of surface parking spaces, the proposed tree planting, monitoring and mitigation of adverse effects. (The Fall issue of the Friends of the Farm newsletter contains an exchange with the City’s planners about some of the questions raised. As well, two articles are about the Hedges Collection which will be lost if these plans go through.)

Following the public consultation, Councillor Leiper put down his thoughts on the plans. He believes issues of traffic circulation and cycling paths can be resolved but cannot see the park above the parking garage being functional as a park serving the local community. Nor does he see a guarantee of smooth connection to the LRT. He regards both these issues as dealbreakers.

Councillor Menard, also post-meeting, sent in comments to the planner. He notes that the “new” Queen Juliana Park is a poor substitute for real greenspace, that the plans are very car-centric, are not adequately integrated with the LRT and active transportation and that the amount of tree loss is not tenable.

On July 7, the Champlain Park Community Association wrote to Mayor Watson, urging rejection of the proposal to remove 680 trees from the site and noting that the proposal lacks an integrated public transit plan.

Councillor McKenney, in a Newsletter of July 12, writes she “cannot support the project without a commitment to bury the parking garage and return the publicly accessible greenspace on the eastern portion of the site, a major review of the site’s layout to ensure the retention of as many trees as possible, and a detailed plan on linking the Dow’s Lake LRT station to the hospital site.”

Joel Harden, Ottawa Centre MPP, hosted a Town Hall on the matter September 1, 2021. The first 40 minutes of this 2-hour event have now been posted on YouTube — three Councillors’ introductory statements and the presentation by Architect Toon Dreessen. Joel promised a report and will write to the CEO of The Ottawa Hospital.

Media coverage related to the Master Site Plan:

Kate Porter in CBC News, May 31, 2021 – “Neighbours pore over details of future Civic hospital plan”

Blair Crawford in the Ottawa Citizen, July 2 – “Parking garage, LRT connection called ‘dealbreakers’ for Civic hospital plans by Coun. Jeff Leiper”

Rob Snow‘s podcast for CityNews and Rogers Media — Interview with Karen Wright, President of CHNA

Krystalle Ramlakhan in CBC News, July 4 – “Transportation plan for future Civic hospital flawed, neighbours say”

Bruce Deachman in the Ottawa Citizen, 5 July – “Protesters decry the paving of paradise to put up a parking lot (and hospital)”

Kelly Egan in the Ottawa Citizen, July 10 – “It’s come to trees and parking — have we botched location of new Civic hospital?”

CTV, July 12 – “Opposition grows to aboveground parking garage on new Civic Campus site” with clips from MPP Joel Harden, Clive Doucet and Karen Wright.

Elisabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen, July 13 – “Parking emerges as a key concern on the road to a 21st century Civic hospital”

Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen, August 3 – “Civic may yet get rail connection.”

Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen, August 4 – “A range of possibilities” for LRT access.

Ben Andrews on CBC News of August 16 – “Rally to protect trees is latest action against future Civic hospital site”

Kelly Egan in the Ottawa Citizen of September 2 (online) – “Why the new Civic hospital is never getting underground parking”

Mohammed Adam in the Ottawa Citizen of September 2 – “City of Ottawa needs to say how it will pay for its share of the new Civic hospital”

Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen, September 3 – “Naqvi promises to protect Central Experimental Farm”

Randall Denley in the Ottawa Citizen of September 8 – “A reality check for voters on the hospital plan”

Kelly Egan in the Ottawa Citizen of September 9 – “Location of Civic Hospital emerges as backyard issue for Ottawa Centre voters”

Mohammed Adam in the Ottawa Citizen of September 10 – “Focus on saving what’s left of the Experimental Farm”

Sara Frizzell on, September 27 – “Civic hospital campus approaching last hurdles in approval process”

October 2021

On October 1, a joint meeting of Ottawa’s Planning and Built Heritage Committees heard from 50 delegations about the master site plan for the new hospital; the video of this meeting comes in three parts: part 1 (4:07:54), part 2 (1:08:26), and part 3 (5:18:40).

In part 1, the meeting reaches quorum at 11:35, staff and applicant presentations start at 25:44 and delegations start at 1:23:14. Part 2 starts after the lunch break at 5:28 with Michael Wolfson first up. In part 3, Paul Johanis’ segment runs from 1:17:12 to 1:36:58; he is followed by Heritage Ottawa’s David Fleming; after a supper break the meeting resumes at the 2:47:28 mark with questions to the applicant.

Planning Committee met again on October 4 (the video is here; length 2:15:08), adopted a number of motions tweaking various aspects of the Master Plan or Conditions set out by staff, and then approved the main motion, 6 to 2 (Councillors Menard and Leiper opposing; Councillors Dudas and Hubley were absent for the vote). Before that, note the closing remarks starting at 1:50:05 with comments by Councillor Menard, followed by Councillors Gower, Moffatt and Brockington (the latter’s starts at 2:02:44). The Minutes of the meeting are <here>.

Motions adopted include asking the Mayor to write to the federal government asking for legal protection of the Farm; and directions to staff to maximize tree planting, minimize parking space, optimize cycling infrastructure, and ensure community consultation on traffic impacts. Stephen Willis provided assurances that connection to the LRT will happen either underground or via a covered air bridge; and that the 4-storey parking structure will be shielded from views from Dow’s Lake.

The 89-page staff report is here (2.8 MB); Document 5 to the report (pp. 51-65) lists 34 Conditions of Approval.

Also on Monday, the NCC was scheduled to hold its Annual Public Meeting, at which members of the public can ask questions. GA Chair Paul Johanis, who co-chaired the Campus Engagement Group (of which the NCC was an institutional member), sent in a “question” which cited five key principles the Group had laid out at the beginning of its work. He then asked:

Will the NCC uphold the principles it set forth for this new facility built on NCC land? If necessary, will the NCC propose that federal-provincial negotiations be undertaken to ensure funding is available to truly fulfill the expectations of the community, the hospital and the Crown for this exceptional site?

However, the event apparently was plagued by technical problems and the webcast was aborted. However, a half-hour was recorded and is available here. Of five questions entertained, one was about the new hospital; the question was read at the 21:54 mark and CEO Tobi Nussbaum’s response begins at 23:01 and runs to 26:38.

The following morning the NCC Board of Directors met; here is the video link (but it has severe audio problems).  Staff’s submission about the new Hospital is here (5 MB); staff’s presentation (including speaking notes) is here (30 MB).  Staff’s recommendation was approved. To be noted in the staff submission are the Performance Criteria (pp. 25-26).

Media coverage of the October meetings:

Taylor Blewitt in the Ottawa Citizen of October 2 – “Planning committee to vote Monday on master plan for new Civic hospital”

Kelly Egan in the Ottawa Citizen of October 2 – “We ‘settled’ on the new Civic; no wonder the long faces”

Leah Matthews in Capital Current of October 2 – “We Stand With Trees portrait project aims to protect 600 trees threatened by new Civic hospital campus”

Jon Willing in the Otawa Citizen of October 4 – “Planning committee endorses master site plan for future Civic hospital”

Matthew Kupfer on CBC News, October 4 – “City to call for federal legislation to prevent further development on Central Experimental Farm”

Craig Lord on Global news, October 4 – “Ottawa committee OKs master plan for new Civic hospital campus”

Michael Woods on CTV News, October 4 – “Planning committee votes in favour of new Civic master plan”

CTV news, October 5 – “NCC Board approves new Civic hospital master plan”

Blair Crawford in the Ottawa Citizen of October 6 – “NCC OKs new Civic site plan but wants connection to LRT”

Ted Raymond in CTV News, October 13 – “Council approves site plan for hospital’s new Civic campus”

Two regional hospital CEOs, co-signed by 14 chiefs of staff of regional hospitals, in the Ottawa Citizen of October 8 – “Hospital parking: Do we have your attention? – Let Civic plan go forward” — Two letters to the editor in response, one supportive, one critical, October 13.

Taylor Blewitt in the Ottawa Citizen of October 14 – “Council OKs site plan for new Civic hospital campus”

Elisabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen of October 16 – “Approvals clear the way for start of construction on new Civic next year”