By James Coulter
Since the hospital announced their plan, a group of ordinary citizens has campaigned and advocated for a hospital solution that will provide the region with modern facilities, and in a location which makes sense to the taxpayers who are going to support it and the public which it will serve.
We were promised an open, transparent site selection process.
It was not. The process only became public knowledge after its completion and only as the result of an access to information request.
We were promised that the final selection of the proposed site would not be determined by cost.
It was, and that decision was not only flawed it has been challenged by the very engineer that assessed the two short-listed sites.
The hospital spokespeople will not engage the citizens group in a respectful dialogue. Instead, they disparage, obfuscate, and otherwise deflect any criticism or line of inquiry.
The latest instance of this was an article published by Blackburn News on November 4th.
In it, David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, repeats a common line; we are “competing” for a new hospital with other jurisdictions. The article states that, “[Musyj] feels there is a vocal minority that continually comes up with misleading and incorrect information about the new hospital plan.”
In the same article, he also contends that city residents will have “emergency room” service at a downtown urgent care centre. By definition, an urgent care centre is not an emergency room.
In the last twenty years we have gone from four functioning hospitals to two and, by the proposed plan, down to one. I cannot fathom how a city of more than 200,000 people is supposed to be properly serviced by their plan, let alone a regional population approaching 400,000 people.
The “vocal minority” that Musyj derides as unfortunate and generally negative, in the same article, are advocating not just for their city but for the best possible outcome for the whole region.
The Windsor and Essex County region needs a strong urban economy and the jobs that it attracts. A strong city needs services and to be sustainable.
A single hospital, in the shadow of an airport, on active agricultural land, literally miles from any existing city neighbourhood, without transit, hydro, water, gas, or urban arterial road access, is a mistake.
It’s a mistake for a city with hundreds of acres of fully serviced brown-field sites and infill properties.
It’s a mistake for a city with a large infrastructure maintenance deficit to build out into undeveloped, unserviced land.
There are alternatives.
There are better ways of using $2 billion to develop new medical infrastructure in a modern, economic, environmentally responsible way for Windsor and Essex County.
The Ontario Liberal government wants cities to grow responsibly, to improve and maximize transit, and to minimize identifiable causes of climate-change. We want those things for our city.
As a member of that vocal minority, I ask that you tell Windsor Regional Hospital to re-think its hospital plan and to finally and fairly address the concerns of the citizens advocating for our region.