The National Capital Commission will review 12 potential sites for the new $2-billion Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital, including four on contested Central Experimental Farm land, the agency announced Monday.
The potential sites include three on the Experimental Farm along Carling Avenue and another on farm land near Baseline and Merivale roads, as well as the existing site of the Civic campus.
The other sites that will be assessed include Tunney’s Pasture, Lincoln Fields, the federal government’s Booth Street complex, two sites on West Hunt Club Road near Highway 416, a site on Woodroffe Avenue near Hunt Club Road and the Merivale Road-Woodroffe Avenue corridor. The NCC also released its draft section criteria, which fall into three broad categories: functional and operational, capital interests, and regional and local interests.
The functional and operational criteria will consider whether the size of the site supports the hospital’s needs, whether it is within the urban area close to amenities, and access to arterial roads and major highways, among other things.
Capital interests include compatibility with existing federal plans, impact on heritage sites and historic buildings and cost implications for the federal government related to land value, demolition and relocation of facilities.
Among the regional and local interests that will be considered are the site’s compatibility with the City of Ottawa’s plans and integration with transportation and public transit networks.
The NCC will brief elected officials and first nations leaders at the Canadian War Museum on Sept. 22, followed by an open house for the public at 3 p.m. and a question-and-answer session from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. In addition, a two-week online consultation will begin on Sept. 22.
The results of the public and stakeholder feedback “will inform the recommendations” of the NCC’s six-member evaluation committee, chief executive Mark Kristmanson said.
The evaluation committee will finalize the selection criteria in early October and recommend the preferred site to the NCC’s board in November, Kristmanson said.
Leslie Maitland*, a spokeswoman for a group that opposes the use of Experimental Farm land for the new hospital, said she was “very pleased” that the NCC was considering 12 potential sites rather than just the four put forward this spring by The Ottawa Hospital.
“It really is a fresh look at things,” she said.
She was also pleased that the NCC had “considerably beefed up” capital interests as one of the key selection criteria. Her group had feared that the interests of the hospital would receive the most weight.
While Maitland was disappointed that four sites on the Experimental Farm remain on this list, “I’m hoping the criteria will make it obvious that the Central Experimental Farm shouldn’t be considered at all.
“I’m optimistic that we’re still working towards a win-win scenario,” she said. “The next few weeks will be very important.”
Three of the proposed sites are along Hunt Club Road between Woodroffe Avenue and Highway 416. Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli said he’ll be listening closely to his constituents’ views.
“Obviously, anything that’s going to cut into Experimental Farm land is a very sensitive issue,” Egli said. “The more accessible they can make the hospital site the better, so if they have access to rapid transit or the LRT, that would be helpful.”
In a statement, The Ottawa Hospital said it welcomed the site selection process and promised it would provide advice and information to all stakeholders and the public.
“Each of the proposed sites, announced today, will have benefits and challenges impacting health care delivery, infrastructure, cost, community and environmental factors. Our commitment is to support the NCC process. Our responsibility, as the region’s leading health care provider, is to ensure that stakeholders and the public have all of the necessary information to provide well informed feedback and input during the NCC consultation process.”
The hospital said replacing the existing 92-year-old campus was “a question of urgency and priority” and the decision would be felt well into the next century.
Kristmanson said the NCC is on track to provide a site recommendation to the agency’s board by its next public meeting in November and a final recommendation to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly by the end-of-November deadline.
The dozen proposed sites released Monday:
1. Tunney's Pasture – Scott Street
2. Lincoln Fields – Pinecrest Creek
3. West Hunt Club Road (north) – Highway 416
4. West Hunt Club Road (south) – Highway 416
5. Woodroffe Avenue – West Hunt Club Road
6. Merivale Road /Woodroffe Avenue corridor
7. Central Experimental Farm – Baseline Road – Merivale Road
8. Existing Ottawa Hospital – Civic Campus
9. Central Experimental Farm – Carling Avenue (west)
10. Central Experimental Farm – Carling Avenue (central)
11. Central Experimental Farm – Carling Avenue (east)
12. Booth Street complex
Leslie Maitland* is the Past-President and current Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Heritage Ottawa. Heritage Ottawa is a member of The Coalition to Protect the Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site of Canada.