Update | February 5, 2017

Build the new hospital next to the old – the “Made in Collingwood” solution 

Collingwood February 5, 2017  

A decision about the site of a new hospital in Collingwood is nowhere near: that’s what members of the citizens group, Hospital4Collingwood, learned at a meeting with the Ministry of Health last week.
“We were told by the Ministry that it does not approve a site for a new hospital until the site is ready to be built on,” said Karina Dahlin of the group. “This means the Collingwood Town Council has to approve the site. However, if Council were to approve Poplar Sideroad, which is the hospital board’s preferred site, other reviews and approvals would still be needed. It would be better to use the existing site.”
The Deloitte consultants, who completed a review for the Collingwood Town Council on the hospital board’s stage 1 submission to the Ministry of Health, pointed out one problem with the Poplar Sideroad site: it contravenes provincial planning policy.
“That site is now designated as employment lands for industry, and according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs official at the meeting, provincial policy requires a county-wide study before such lands can be put to other use,” said Rob Mooy, a member of the group that met with ministry representatives in Toronto Feb. 2. “We understand that’s an extensive and costly study, and provincial policy generally says industrial employment lands should not be converted to another use, particularly for something like a hospital.”
Meanwhile, the existing hospital lands – where new clinical facilities could be built without disruption to the existing hospital – are zoned for hospital use. No rezoning would be required.
“I don’t understand now that we have met with the Ministry why the hospital board keeps saying we can’t afford any more delay when the board must know their preferred site is unlikely to be approved any time soon,” said John Sewell of the group. “We are being misled.”
Ava Zaritzky, another member of the group, was encouraged to hear the Ministry experts clarify that the only cause for any delay with the redevelopment projects of this nature happens when a site is not ready for construction. “Perhaps, if we imagine a new hospital on the present site, the hospital could be completed sooner,” she said.
“We think the hospital board should be more reasonable,” said Mooy. “Our group wants to see a new facility built quickly, and the first step on that is to use a site that is already approved for hospital use. The Poplar Sideroad site is the wrong place.”
“Building on the empty land the hospital owns around the existing hospital site – close to the retirement homes, doctors’ office etc – is the `Made in Collingwood’ solution,” says Dahlin.  “It will get approved faster, and everyone can focus on the many other steps in this process.”