By Leslie Maitland, Heritage Ottawa
The Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital on Carling Road is a Frankenstein among hospital buildings. A new facility is well warranted and the Ottawa Hospital can count on my donation cheque when the new building campaign is launched.
But why must a new facility be built on the grounds of the Central Experimental Farm (CEF), one of Canada's signature agricultural research stations and a National Historic Site of Canada? I'll leave it to the scientists to address the significance of the agricultural research conducted there. From a heritage perspective, we must ask why the Federal Government of Canada is giving away part of a National Historic Site - a site that belongs to all Canadians - without public discussion or consultation.
Surely there are other viable options to consider. As far as central locations go, what about the Booth Street complex which is already slated for disposal? And let's not forget LeBreton Flats.
The gradual 'whittling away' of the Central Experiment Farm has been ongoing for some time, and is in danger of accelerating. What developer wouldn't want the portion of the CEF property facing the Rideau Canal? Development pressure could soon result in too little land remaining to justify the Central Experimental Farm's continued existence, at which point it would be all to easy to justify carving the site up even more.
The Central Experimental Farm is a rare jewel in our midst that can be preserved, but can never be recreated. Like all of Canada's National Historic Sites, it deserves thoughtful and careful consideration.