In 2012, the idea of a mega hospital came to be. The few community leaders who were consulted were supportive. Shortly afterward, the Windsor Star said the current two hospitals were unlikely to close. It’s no surprise that people supported the idea of 3 acute care hospitals.
The problem, though, was the claim to need 50 to 60 acres for the new facility. There aren’t many 40 to 50 acre sites in the city, but a 2014 newspaper headline suggested the GM site could be used.
I was convinced this was the logical solution. The idea was from CAMPP though, a group that hospital officials seem to feel obligated to ignore, no matter how reasonable the idea.
In June 2015, the announcement of the so-called finalized plans came and were full of surprise details. That’s when people started scratching their heads at the apparent lack of reasoning.
There was no check of public opinion before announcing the new details. This was probably out of fear of the lack of support and the inevitable questioning. This included the demolition of Windsor’s existing hospitals.
Officials made a deal with the city for a land swap, which was announced long after it was made. We’re still waiting for a survey of public opinion which shows the, now cliché, overwhelming support.
Then, in September 2016, Stantec consulting announced plans to develop 221 hectares, 546 acres, supporting the hospital in this questionable location. Few people questioned the need for the additional 486 acres, but CAMPP’s Philippa Von Ziegenweidt asked about the population predictions supporting the need for this development.
Windsor gained 8,000 people since 1971. There is no coinciding prediction of an economic boom or sudden change to inspire a huge increase in population to fill all the new homes, commercial buildings, and two business parks.
If there is a population explosion, though, they better add a few beds to the hospital plans. The existing number already results in overcrowding and beyond the safe levels of average occupancy.
On July 5, 2017, new plans were announced by the new consultants, MHBC. The preferred option was now 400 hectares, 990 acres, about the size of the town of Essex.
The increased size was for storm water management, 95.4 hectares, and to avoid splitting up existing lots into small parcels. Many people suspect the plan is for development alone. The consultant agreed that once approved, development can take place even without the hospital.
However, there isn’t much profit if investors have to pay for almost a quarter of the land to be dedicated to storm water management. Plus, it is a high risk investment; prices are already rising to increase the initial investment cost and there is no guarantee that the property is actually desirable or marketable.
If the hospital plans change prices will likely drop.
If land values eventually reach the $100,000 per acre the hospital paid for the bean field, the whole 990 acres would be worth $99 million. That’s chump change compared to $2 Billion, or $1.6 Billion, for the hospital alone.
The GM site at $150,000 per acre is a far better value, and still for sale two years later.
For those who want to follow the money, look at the value of the profits in the $1.6 Billion hospital itself. Not just inflated construction costs, but profits from financing and maintenance. There are also possible revenue generators, like parking, restaurants, retail shops, lease space, medical offices, and long term care facilities, on the hospital grounds.
Sixty acres seemed excessive, but now they want to develop 16 times that amount. I’m no doctor, but when you need a bandage 16 times the size of the original boo-boo, or the cost of treatment will leave the patient going hungry, look for common sense or generic solutions.