Mega-Hospital Site Selection Questionable

(WINDSOR, ON) – Recent news highlighted prospects for the mega-hospital coming to fruition on County Road 42. There has been limited information on the site selection process, however, and is subject to question.

Reports disseminated indicate that a number of sites were proffered for consideration by various entities. It is reported that they were ranked in order of merit to a given set of criteria. Detailed site criteria prerequisites, however, have not as yet been made public, while media reports looked at the successful interaction between political, bureaucratic, and public input in the process.

Mayor Dilkens cited the top priorities to be considered in relation to multiple aspects affecting the project. This entails revisiting the Official Plan and planning roads and services, along with other considerations. All have considerable cost implications that should be assumed to evolve with the mega-hospital.

This will take some time with closing on the selected site to occur in 2017.

The propriety of the selected site for a multi-billion dollar mega-hospital development and surrounds poses questions as to accessibility, proximity, and neighbouring land use relationships. Interaction with the Windsor Airport warrants consideration.

The 2010 Master Plan for the so-called Windsor International Airport (YQG), submitted by LPS Aviation Inc. and Dillon Consulting, appears to be a misnomer. Apparently, Windsor is identified as a, “local and regional” airport, in accordance with Transport Canada’s, National Airports Policy.

In addition to its present disposition, the City of Windsor hopes to see YQG function as a cargo hub. If successful, all hours air and vehicular ground traffic will increase significantly, impacting on surrounding land usage. These phenomena would impact on existing and proposed risk sensitive occupancies.

YQG, which bounds the northern flank of the proposed mega-hospital site, across county Road 42 is proposed for “either/or/and” possibilities. Options related to surplus lands include a “Future Employment Area”, say industrial/commercial, and “Comprehensive Multi-Modal Transportation development.”

In either instance, certain land use compatibility issues would emerge on lands north of County Road 42. Such uses might be regarded as non-conforming within the immediate neighbourhood of the airport.

Area-wise, the YQG lands encompass 813 hectares (2,008 acres). The footprint is equivalent to lands that lie within the area bounded by Drouillard Road in the west to Lauzon Road on the east, Riverside Drive to the north and Tecumseh Road to the south. YQG wooded lands are designated and hopefully will co-exist as a natural preserve.

Generally speaking, no cities come to mind where an airport, of any description, has a major sophisticated hospital on its doorstep.

Transport Canada’s TC 1247E land use criteria adjacent to airports leaves much to be desired toward authenticating the south-east corner acreage at County Road 42 and Concession 9 as fit for a mega-hospital, in such configuration as is yet to be determined. It would appear that neighbouring land use in airport surrounds is subject to review by Transport Canada in accordance with TC 1247E.

According to Transport Canada, adjacent land uses for energy saving devices such as windmills, solar panels, cooling ponds, etc would not pass muster. Additionally, the proposed hospital helipad and the YQG cross flight paths might be an issue.

As an alternate reference, there is a 311 page Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) report sponsored by the US Federal Aviation Administration entitled Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility Volume 1: Land Use Fundamentals and Implementation Resources.

It cites compatible relationships in reference to neighbouring population densities relative to occupancy and, in this instance, Institutional Uses. Such uses are generally defined to include an organization that is influential in the community. It notes that institutional land uses should not be located on or near airports due to various sensitivities and safety issues as affect occupancies in such neighbouring accommodations.

Life Safety Issues

The goal is to limit uses that have potential impacts in the following categories:

  • Those uses hazardous to airspace and over flights
  • Tall structures (cell towers, wind turbines, vegetation, tall buildings)
  • Visual obstructions (smoke, glare, steam, dust, lights)
  • Wildlife and bird attractants (wetlands, crops, open water)
  • Those uses that affect accident severity
  • High concentrations of people (schools, churches, hospitals, arenas)
  • Risk-sensitive uses (nursing homes, hospitals, flammable materials)
  • Open lands

Noise Related Issues

These affect noise sensitivity risks in areas with high concentrations of people. Such land uses include, but are not limited to, eldercare centres, hospitals, health care facilities, and educational facilities in terms of:

  • Annoyance
  • Building Vibrations
  • Sensitive Processes and Operations
  • Learning
  • Non-auditory Health Effects
  • Recovery and Sleep Disturbance

There could even be an environmental impact due to prevailing north-west wind originated contamination from increased air and vehicular traffic. Prevailing winds do influence the noise effect of jet engines downwind.

Another source suggests that limitations compatibility of neighbouring land uses, in terms of hospital occupancies, should be within the range of 55-65 DBN. Although the YQG references noise, the extent of its effect does not encompass the mega-hospital site.

Although the consequential effect can be tempered somewhat in building design, increased, all-hour, jet traffic with varying carrying capacities will have a negative effect on the proposed hospital land use.

A comprehensive issues/opportunities analysis for this site begs for consideration.

About the Author

William Kachmaryk, Sr
William Kachmaryk, is an architect and member of the Ontario Association of Architects. He has extensive work experience in both Canada and the United States and was the original architect of the Pelissier Street parking garage in Windsor.

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