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”

December 16, 2021

The new government’s mandate letters were released today. While not directly related to the new hospital, this phrase in the letter to Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault is noteworthy: “Introduce comprehensive legislation to protect federally-owned historic places.” Surely this will include the Central Experimental Farm. Legislative protection for the C.E.F. was also pledged by newly elected Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi.

December 31, 2021

A potted history of the whole process to date may be found on page 8 of the Winter Newsletter of the Friends of the Central Experimental Farm.

January 12, 2022

Bruce Cockburn, in a 37-sec video, having heard from Re-ImagineOttawa, urges making sure “the right choices are being made.” (Also in the Ottawa Citizen of 12-13 January.)

March 25, 2022

The Ontario government announced another $29.1 million planning grant for the new hospital (Ottawa Citizen).

April 16, 2022

Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen reports that the chosen site for the new hospital continues to come under attack, with Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre, who is running for reelection on June 2, one of the most vocal critics. He believes that, if the NDP forms government, the choice of site may yet change. The article also mentions a Deloitte economic analysis dated October 2021. The report finds that, during the construction period alone, the project will add $1.9 billion to the city’s gross domestic product. A hospital official is quoted as expressing frustration that so much of the criticism is about the parking garage, which will see shovels in the ground this summer.

(As reported by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen of May 19, during a campaign stop in Ottawa the previous day, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was non-committal about the choice of location. On June 2, Harden was re-elected with 54% of the vote.)

April 19, 2022

A $500 million fundraising campaign for the new hospital was officially launched today. Bruce Deachman in the Ottawa Citizen reports that $216 million has already been raised, with details of major donations to be released in the coming weeks. At the official launch, Roger Greenberg, campaign chair, announced a $25 million donation from The Minto Group, of which he is executive chairman.

May-June 2022

Hospital CEO Cameron Love appeared before the City’s Finance and Economic Development Committee on May 3 (video record), saying that the City was expected to contribute $150 million towards the cost of building the new hospital. If such contribution would not be forthcoming, then the project risks being delayed, he continued. The Committee unanimously agreed with staff’s recommendation that it assess where the $150 million could be found and expect a report back in the second or third quarter of 2023. As reported by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen of May 4, several Councillors had pointed questions about the appropriateness of this request, seeing that hospitals are a provincial responsibility and that the trauma centre will serve a wider area than Ottawa. (See also Kate Porter in CBC News.)

When the matter came to Council on May 11, the staff report was approved in a 15-8 vote. (Voting against were Councillors Menard, Brockington, Deans, Leiper, Kavanagh, McKenney, Meehan and King. Councillor Chiarelli was absent. The video record of this discussion straddles part 1 and part 2 on YouTube.) At both Committee and Council the location issue continued to be raised. This caught the ire of Councillor Jan Harder who, at Council, said: “Take your trees and your freaking parking lot and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.” (Ref. Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen of May 12.)

Carl Meyer in The Narwhal of May 19 wrote a long article on the new campus, highlighting the unhappiness of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition which is co-chaired by Stephanie Adams and Allison Fisher. Despite the Hospital having held a ceremony on September 30, 2021 to “honour the land” and “respectfully offer thanks” to all Indigenous people, some Indigenous communities still feel left out of the conversation. They complain that they were not consulted before the parking garage was approved. The hospital has an Indigenous Peoples Advisory Circle which held its inaugural meeting in May 2021 but its makeup and workings are not made public.

In a June 15 column in the Citizen, Randall Denley opined that fundraising for the hospital must be more transparent, chiding the hospital foundation for being vague about what the fundraising goal of $500 million and the City’s $150 million will be used for.

June 28, 2022

From the GA mailing list:

Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi wrote to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault on March 21 about heritage protection of the C.E.F.:

“…I request that the Central Experimental Farm be added as a protected historic place under the proposed new legislation.”

The Minister replied on April 12:

“I have asked the Parks Canada Agency to continue to work in collaboration with officials of the National Capital Commission and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and to continue to provide heritage conservation advice with respect to the protection and conservation of the heritage value of the Central Experimental Farm.”

This is not yet the commitment we were hoping for. Read both letters from here:

A subscriber added:

The Central Experimental Farm *IS* a National Historic Site of Canada (

Being a National Historic Site of Canada does not offer any legal protection. “[T]he proposed new legislation” does not introduce any new definition of “a protected historic place”. The only thing it says under the Orwellian heading “Protection and Conservation of the Heritage Value of Federal Historic Places” is:

    Consultation with Agency — disposition

    32 (1) A federal authority must consult with the Agency before

       the disposition, including by a transfer of administration or

       a transfer of administration and control, of a federal historic

       place under the administration of that federal authority.


    (2) The federal authority must notify the Agency when that

    disposition is complete.


There is still a chance of improving this bill in subsequent readings, but methinks this is just another purely performative activity both on the side of Mr Naqvi and the Government.

November 29, 2022

Today the Ottawa Hospital released a Request for Proposals by Infrastructure Ontario for a design and development team to build the new hospital. “The RFP process is expected to close in fall 2023, after which IO and The Ottawa Hospital will evaluate the submissions and select a partner to enter into a Development Phase Agreement for the Development Phase. Upon completion of the Development Phase, it is expected that the development partner would enter into a fixed-price, public-private partnership (P3) agreement to design, build, finance, and maintain the project.”