By Greg Heil
At a time when we can barely serve frontline care needs of local patients we should not be facilitating the massive diversion of resources toward infrastructure development that we simply do not need and cannot afford.
From the beginning, the local planners of this flawed process have acted as minions for the all-powerful Ontario Ministry of Health, which has sought to promote consolidation of existing hospitals province-wide into fewer mega-facilities in the interest of long-term operational cost savings. But, that comes at a terribly impossible compromise for our region where one proposed mega-hospital is intended to serve a far flung county and an urban center not concentric to it.
This, in turn, led to the current improbable scheme to urbanize a wide swath of rural land unjustified by any city growth projections and intended only to embellish and validate the new hospital’s arbitrary location.
The sad reality of the proposed rezoning is, if the hospital is built, it comes at the tremendous inconvenience to citizens losing existing inner-city facilities. But, even if it is never built (appearing ever more likely), vested land ownership interests within the rezoned district will press forward with unneeded urban sprawl to the detriment of the city’s core.
Windsor Council has said, “We must approve the rezoning to demonstrate local resolve and keep the process moving if we hope to secure provincial funding!”
The new Tory government at Queen’s Park, however, is unlikely to be impressed by even a chorus of solidarity from our distant hostile hinterland. They face a Herculean task of bringing the province’s lavish public spending and debt under control and they may well indefinitely defer or outright cancel the massive healthcare capital investment down here. It is a terrible shame to open Pandora’s Box with this rezoning if the centerpiece for its existence is never built.
Given the local backlash toward the hospital proposal with the associated rezoning and grave uncertainty about funding, the only prudent action was to table the motion indefinitely. Perhaps it would have also been prudent to defer this matter to the new council and mayor after the October election and until a point where there is some clarity about the new hospital’s fate.
This could be Windsor’s greatest municipal mistake.