Civic, NCC Mandates Much Different: Reader


Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn continues the debate on the location of the Civic hospital:

I think it is important to recognize that the Civic hospital management team has a different set of objectives than the National Capital Commission. As such, it is not surprising that the two sides do not agree on the best site.

The Civic hospital management team views the siting of the hospital from a medical needs perspective (e.g. travel times for emergency services, accessibility for a significant portion of the population), and with a view of how best to leverage long-term asset management (read the still under construction Heart Institute facility). In addition, the Civic hospital management team cannot make decisions on factors outside their control, such as the city making significant improvements to existing routes to the hospital.

In contrast, the NCC views the decision primarily from a land management perspective. It has a portfolio of properties, some of which they are prepared to re-purpose. The NCC also has a history of making decisions that require others to make significant contributions. The vaguely worded part of their communications about Ottawa having lots of time to make changes to the existing access routes to Tunney’sPasture being a prime example.

The only overlapping part of these two very different mandates is that the Civic is looking for “free” land, and the NCC has land that it is prepared to “donate” to the hospital. When constraints dominate the decision-making process, the outcome is seldom ideal.



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10 thoughts on “Civic, NCC Mandates Much Different: Reader

  1. I’m still waiting to hear what the feds’ understanding of ‘free’ land and a ‘donated’ site are. My suspicion is that they will be looking for a land swap with the City for the current Civic site which they would then use themselves or sell for development.
    Federal land, as I’ve heard over and over again, isn’t there for Ottawans but is held in trust for all Canadians. How will they justify handing over a huge chunk of very valuable land to Ottawa for no return unless they’re prepared to do the same for other communities? Other places would love to get a piece of federal land for local use and good luck explaining why they can’t have it.
    Has anyone actually asked the NCC or Ministers McKenna or Joly what they want in return?

  2. Ron Benn,

    The “free” land, is a big factor because it makes parking so cheap to plan. If the feds were going to give the Ottawa Hospital 60 acres gratis, then inexpensively constructed surface parking is the name of the game. This has nothing to do with medicine.

    Again, LRT should service the army of support staff who work at the hospital, as well as others in a non-vital or non-emergency role. What is that number? Maybe three or four thousand people daily. Again, these are able-bodied people (to address Anne Marie’s concern about the Tunney’s Pasture LRT station location), namely people able to walk the same distance from the station to the main entrance of the hospital.

    The Voter asks about the feds’ motive, and I would just say that the involvement of the province, city and feds on capital projects seems to have established a pattern in Ottawa for collaboration and cost-sharing. As to the Heart Institute, I would convert it into an Alzheimer’s Institute. Meanwhile, I would hand over much of the remaining property to the Ottawa-Carleton School Board to build a new Fisher High School (that way, I get to develop my Holland ramp to the 417).

    Lastly, The Voter questions the viability of 50 acres for the future of this hospital. Well, it partly is a question of design (i.e. how high they build) as well as the future hospital plans for the municipality. For example, does the Queensway-Carelton undergo more expansion? Is there a medium-sized hospital for the south end of the city in the future, as urban sprawl continues unabated?

    1. Wait. ‘Your’ Holland ramp to the 417? Um, ok.

      You’re right in my wheelhouse now with the Fisher request. First, Fisher started as a high school but is currently a middle school. The catchment area of which is so astoundingly large, moving it would cause even more of a tectonic disruption than the Civic site debate; even to a site as close as the current Civic campus. Parents lose their minds when you talk about moving a school.

      To ‘your’ ramp, it’s never going to happen. Physically impossible. The Parkdale onramp extends to the middle of the Fisher site as it is, and an off ramp on the opposite side would mean relocation, or demolition of, the Ottawa Electric Railway Company Substation which is likely heritage. Not to mention the fact that an extra Holland ramp would mean three interchanges in 900 meters, and four in 1.4km if you include Island Park and Carling. I don’t think anyone would buy into that when we’re supposedly placing so much reliance on mass transit.

      1. Nicholas,

        Thanks for that info. I was just going from memory and was too lazy to get out my map of Ottawa. Give me time with my map and I can draw some new lines with my crayons. If the Civic does go to Tunney’s what road alterations would you make, if any?

        Out of curiosity, after the pupils from this Fisher Middle School graduate: would they most likely attend either Nepean or Glebe High School? Would a new Fisher combination of middle school and high school work at the Civic, assuming the parents can be tranquilized? Did the loss of Laurentian High School leave much of a hole, which a new Fisher High School could fill? (Albeit, I think that Merivale High School is still on the chopping block.)

        Anyway, wherever the Civic is relocating, it seems as though the Heart Institute will go with it. Thus, a purpose for the old hospital complex is needed if it is to avoid demolition. I would suggest that at least part of the campus could be turned into a long-term care facility, maybe an Alzheimer’s Institute, because there is such a growing demand for that type of facility.

        1. Through all this discussion I have only recently heard mention of turning the old Civic site into a long term care facility which makes perfect sense and should have been mentioned much ealier. I don’t recall where I heard it but there’s a rumor floating around somewhere that the hospital wanted that as part of their ‘synergy’ with going across the street. Whoever’s idea it was/is, it’s a good one.

          Your road alterations to Tunney’s is a tough nut to crack and mainly why I don’t agree with that location. I live just off Parkdale and I know the parking lot that is Parkdale northbound intimately. There isn’t any room to expand Parkdale north without mass expropriations, and like it or not, there is a difference between Parkdale south from the 417 and Parkdale north from the 417. I haven’t seen the complete street plans for Scott yet so that might be possible but the western feeder routes to Scott are iffy (Island Park is a mess but Churchhill might be possible.) Eastern routes are a little better with Bronson and Albert. The Sir John A parkway could be possible, outside of rush hour of course, with it’s links to Carling and the core, but that would require the NCC to back off it’s plans to narrow it. Holland would obviously be used somehow but I struggle to find a way to do it effectively. Perhaps some creative road planning and making Parkdale one way northbound with Holland one way southbound, or vice versa, with cut-through routes on Tyndall and/or Sherwood for 417 access?

          As for schools, we’re a little off topic but…
          While some obviously have a ‘home school’ a lot of Fisher students are often able to choose either Glebe, Nepean and even Lisgar as their high school. The OCDSB does have a few grade 7-12 schools in the system but the board has historically been reluctant to break the 9-12, k-6, or k-8 grade groupings. I don’t know the population of either high school off the top of my head but the board has been struggling with declining enrollment overall and they are currently engaged in a system wide accommodation review. Laurentian didn’t leave a hole at all, and you’re right, Merivale is still a question mark as are a number of elementary schools. With the advent of new developments at Tunney’s, and Lebreton Flats/Zibi, a new school is definitely needed somewhere in the core so you’re right, the old Civic site should be included in those discussions as well.

    2. Sheridan, I do not envy the people who have to make these types of decisions. There is no one right decision, but there is a never ending list of better and worse ones.

      We, as a society, have been underserved by our governments, at all levels. Rather than plan, they react. Rather than lead, they follow, and too frequently they make decisions to appease the loud, but not necessarily large special interest groups. Our elected officials are too focused on re-election, rather than on providing good governance.

      With the population of Ottawa soon to hit one million, we are at an inflection point. Would the residents of Ottawa and surrounding communities be better served by a complete re-think of the manner in which hospitals are set up to meet the needs of our ever expanding population? Would it make sense to build a new hospital somewhere south of the airport, to serve the ever expanding exurbs that our reactors (in contrast to planners) continue to accept, while developing a smaller Civic presence? Would it make sense, at a provincial level, to expand the hospitals in the surrounding satellite communities (Kemptville, Carleton Place, and/or Casselman), with the expectation that Ottawa will follow the path that Toronto has carved, with its suburbs bumping into its exurbs into its satellite communities?

      Until our elected officials start to take their role as leaders more seriously, until our planners plan rather than react, we, like those who fail to learn from history, are destined to repeat it. But enough dark thoughts on a cold, overcast November day.

      1. Ron Benn,

        I quite agree with your civic analysis. However, you must laugh at this delicious political theatre; please don’t let it darkness your spirits.

        And please take care today when journeying on icy sidewalks or roadways; avoid spending such a dull November day as an unfortunate guest of the Civic Hospital.

        1. Sheridan, when I venture down the dark paths of observation about the quandry we find outselves in, I make a hot cuppa, take a few deep breaths and focus on more productive things. In short, I will survive whatever our elected officials, and their errant minions, throw at us. As for the ice on the sidewalks and roadways, that isn’t delivered by our elected officials, it merely remains there longer than it should because of the short-sighted perspectives of our elected officials.

    3. Sheridan:

      I would love to hear an explanation of the difference it would make to the Civic’s needs if there was a hospital in the south end west of the river. If I lived out there, I’d be reading the expansion and relocation of the Civic as the last hospital project for the city for at least a couple of decades and wouldn’t be very happy. The same goes for the far east end of the city. It surprises me that the politicians, both municipal and provincial, representing those areas haven’t questioned the money pouring into the Civic when their communities are being virtually ignored.

      I join you in supporting a conversion of most of the existing Civic site into long-term care beds, respite care and day programs for Alzheimer’s and other things that are currently in short supply in the community. Maybe using it to get all the bed-blockers out of all the area hospitals would allow them to return to their role as health-care providers and not warehouses for people with no appropriate services.

      The research facilities that are part of the Civic site could remain there and potentially expand into some of the freed-up space.


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