By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) has dismissed an appeal from a grassroots group opposed to the location of a new regional hospital in Windsor.
The Dec. 2 decision supports Windsor city council’s decision to approve rezoning of the selected site for a new Windsor Regional Hospital to be built at County Rd. 42 and the 9th Concession.
“After full consideration of the record, submissions and cases submitted, the tribunal finds that Official Plan Amendment (OPA) 120 and the Zoning Bylaw Amendment (ZBA) are consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement. The ZBA conforms with the Official Plan, and both instruments have regard for the provincial interests of s. 2 of the Act,” Tribunal adjudicator Scott Tousaw said in his ruling.
City and hospital officials are applauding the decision, which they say is good news for healthcare in the area. The next step is a functional planning process and if the process continues without delays, the hospital is still about eight years away.
“Today’s decision confirms the zoning and official plan amendments are supported by solid planning evidence and the selected site at County rd. 42 and the 9th Concession is appropriate for a new regional hospital,” hospital president and CEO David Musyj said in a statement.
“We can now move forward and continue planning for the new Windsor-Essex Hospitals System, knowing we have the approval to move forward on the selected site.”
Citizens for an Accountable Mega Hospital Planning Process (CAMPP) launched an appeal of the proposed hospital site with the LPAT, claiming it would “remove health care from the city core and make accessing care difficult for Windsor’s most vulnerable.”
Over the last two years, the $2-billion project to replace Windsor Regional’s two aging campuses with a single acute care hospital was stalled by the appeal.
The hearing was held Oct. 8 to 10 at Windsor’s City Hall council chambers.
“The Tribunal finds no evidence to support CAMPP’s assertion that the projections and land need calculations are flawed. Based on the record, the Tribunal cannot reconcile the opinions related to the forecasts and land needs with the thoroughly substantiated studies provided by Windsor Regional Hospital and accepted by the city.”
Tousaw stated that the design and location comprehensively plans for the city’s growth, “as justified by the needs analysis and provides for a mix of uses, densities, modes of transport, and a fiscally responsible approach to the phasing and costs of municipal services, from transit to greenspace to storm water management.”
Supporting studies optimize existing infrastructure by allocating anticipated growth to developable parcels of land within the built-up areas of the city, utilizing green and brownfields.
“Like many cities, Windsor’s own downtown is not centred in the city,” Tousaw said. “It has grown from its riverside location at the north limit of the city. Mobility and accessibility are addressed by the policy commitment to servicing the hospital site with public transit and by its integration with existing and future neighbourhoods, business areas and transportation corridors.”
The tribunal “is satisfied” that the secondary plan and zoning bylaw amendment are consistent with the OP regarding consultation with Aboriginal communities.
“The hospital planning process was extensive and controversial, and by the time planning applications were made, the record suggests that a full understanding of the proposal was widespread,” the tribunal concluded.
Proper zoning for the new hospital site and a plan for future land use in the surrounding area is required in order to move forward with a comprehensive regional healthcare strategy that includes a new single-site acute care hospital located at County Rd. 42 and the 9th Concession.
With the decision, the zoning for the new hospital is effective Sept. 17, 2018 and the Secondary Plan Dec. 4.
CAMPP has 30 days to launch an appeal in divisional court or request LPAT to review its decision.