A Happy Ending To The Healthy Civic Debate


The choice of the Sir John Carling site for The Ottawa Hospital Civic campus is a very hard decision with which to argue.

Most everyone forgot that there was a commuter rail line beside the location but it so happened that it wasn’t the much-vaunted $2.3-billion Confederation Line but the $33-million humble O-Train.

That makes the Carling site especially well-served by mass transit. People from east and west can eventually (in 20 years perhaps once all the political machinations are worked out?) access the Civic and so too residents from the south end. The tall foreheads at city hall could make access better if they did the right thing by building light rail down Carling Avenue. Maybe that team of Grits that met Friday could put some pressure on Mayor Jim Watson to do the right thing on LRT. There’s still time and one would hope the Liberals don’t want to waste billions of dollars. Hello Bob Chiarelli and David McGuinty.

The road system to the hospital is practical as well with a good connection (at least for now) north on Parkdale Avenue between Highway 417 and Carling Avenue and some good roads south or at least as good as roads get in that part of town.

The Carling site is close to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute though it would be better if it were attached to the Civic. Guess you can’t have everything.

Furthermore the Civic doesn’t interfere with the precious salt-polluted Experimental Farm land. The value of debate is that motivated people find things to support their arguments. One wonders if without this controversy, residents would have discovered the Experimental Farm has substantial polluted land.

Most of the big hitters (but one) in town knew Tunney’s Pasture wouldn’t work for the hospital. Neighbours of the site, in particular those having dealt with the Parkdale Avenue-Highway 417 interchange for years, knew that emergency vehicles would have a terrible time getting to the Civic from the Queensway.

Furthermore the community listened to The Ottawa Hospital board and the good people who toil so diligently at the Civic campus. Some residents saw them as parking-obsessed money-crunchers, but your agent remembers the wonderful help he got in emergency when he was struck down by kidney stones a couple of years ago. And other medical woes over the years as well. These are dedicated professionals who know their business.

The community and our leaders (except one) deferred to medical community’s great expertise.

If people know something much better than you, it’s not a bad idea to listen to them.

And in the end, we did. Good on us.

A healthy debate with a good outcome. Ottawa could use a few of these at city hall.



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4 thoughts on “A Happy Ending To The Healthy Civic Debate

  1. I hope that we can have Lisa McLeod pulled into this discussion. I don’t always agree with her but I suspect she would have joined the John Carling Gang had she been asked. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do to rise above party lines and try to get progress on an issue.

    The argument for a Carling Avenue LRT line just got a lot stronger and more pressure could be put on the City to re-examine the route if it came from both sides of the House.

    1. The Voter,

      “The argument for a Carling Avenue LRT line just got a lot stronger.” False.

      Previously, the federal choice was also to locate the new Civic Hospital on Carling. Some voices, such as that of MPP Yasir Naqvi, initially said they favoured LRT down Carling. And yet, when the Phase 2 plans were being debated at City Hall, there was no coalition of Liberal MPPs (like what was exhibited this week in support of the Sir John Carling site) demanding the city put the western LRT route on Carling. Just the opposite, namely these MPPs happily shared LRT photo-ops with Watson and complimenting his “transit vision,” e.g. the big photo-op at the Tremblay Station.

      The only senior minister who seemed to have any concern about LRT and the new Civic Hospital selection was Minister Catherine McKenna.

      Mayor Jim Watson’s citing his support for the Sir John Carling site in large part because it has a link to the Trillium line was so phony because he has ignored calls by the community to bring the Trillium line up to the standards of the Confederation line. The present western LRT route favours developers and a rapid link to the suburbs. Fat chance that Watson will now reverse course, especially as no Liberal MPP wants to stand in his way. Yup, just all one happy family.

      1. Sheridan:

        I’m thinking people care more about the hospital than light rail because a commuter train operator has never taken their gall bladder out.



  2. I am content with this choice. It was Ron Benn’s first choice, and he was winning me over to it as my second choice.

    However, let us not mistake what took place this past week as a “debate.” Indeed, no traffic studies have even been done, and yet limited access was maintained to be without doubt. The same with the issue of construction timelines and demolition costs. The hospital board did not even meet with the federal minister to debate the NCC’s choice. It was all done via political posturing.

    The result seems like a good compromise, but let us not be fooled into thinking that this was in any way a healthy debate. Rather, this mimics too closely the process of so much that passes at City Hall for debate, with results that have not been so fortunate as the approval of the Sir John Carling site, e.g. the cancelled Kettle Island bridge project.


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