Farm Best Place For New Civic: Quotable




“And with all due respect, health care is more important than preserving that part of the farm – which I know and love and ride my bike through, but there you go.”

Dr. Chris Carruthers, former chief of staff at the Ottawa Hospital

In the field of medicine, one should defer to Dr. Carruthers. In locating a hospital, he is certain to know of what he speaks.

The Civic might be the most important institution in this city. This does not give Dr. Carruthers and other medical people carte blanche on locating a hospital, though their expertise is considerable in this field.

The Experimental Farm is a wonderful institution as well and will continue to exist if the Civic gets a parcel of its land. A good argument can be made that the farm should be moved outside the urban area of the city. But that is not the point here.

The Civic saves lives. It helps make people’s health better. So if I have a choice between the Farm and the Civic, grudgingly the Civic wins every time.

The current location and that of the lands across Carling Avenue from it are very good. It serves much of downtown. Good emergency service is enhanced by Highway 417 nearby. That said, it is hurt by light rail not being built down Carling (many sick and elderly people can’t handle trips from bus to bus). Still the Ottawa Heart Institute is nearby.

My priorities aren’t the same as others, but your agent would like to hear The Bulldog readership’s opinions on this one. It’s very important.

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26 thoughts on “Farm Best Place For New Civic: Quotable

  1. I’m with the Bulldog on this one. My natural reaction when I heard that it would be moving across the street was ‘Perfect, couldn’t fine a better spot for it.’

    The location and ease of transportation access are the big winners for me. The only large parcels of land I can think of that are either undeveloped, or in transition, are both owned by the feds (Tunney’s Pasture and the Farm.) Anything else would require buying land that is privately held which I’m sure would raise alarm bells with everyone. Carling is a main artery in the core and the close proximity to the 417 helps with the decision a great deal. And while Tunney’s has the LRT, it’s road access is less than ideal (please don’t get me started on possible Parkway access. The NCC is already involved enough.) If there is a desire to preserve that parcel of farmland across the street in it’s entirety, the other logical spot would be where the Sir John Carling building was. Infrastructure is mostly there already and I’m sure could be upgraded or adapted with ease.

    I know some would argue this point but anywhere on Hunt Club isn’t ‘central’ in the City and I don’t understand why they’re considering it. Yes, the south end of the City does require some form of medical coverage but why dilute the coverage the core has? Let’s build the new Civic AND another facility in the south end. (I know, pie in the sky.) I defer to those who know more on medical needs in terms of size but another facility in the south wouldn’t be wasted money I’m sure.

    1. I’m not sure why people keep stating or implying that Tunney’s is not well connected to 417 – it is almost as close as the current Civic campus. (a few hundred metres further)

      Now, if you want to argue that Tunney’s is too far north in terms of non-highway catchment area (you know, in the same way LRT is …), then I will agree that it is less useful than CEF land.

      1. Ron234,

        Good points. Indeed, if the 417 is such a significant criteria, then the Booth site has to be a leading contender. Also, it has quick access to Prince of Wales, Preston, Bronson and Carling.

        Why is no one showing any love for the Booth site? Its small size? (I think that it is only slightly bigger than the existing Civic Hospital site.) It is not too far removed from the existing Civic Hospital, and so it is still closer to the downtown area while still being central enough to the west-end.

        Close enough to the Trillium LRT line, Carling Station? (Again, my complaint about the Trillium line not being double tracked.)

        Any thoughts about the Booth site?

  2. I objected to the way the original decision was made. In typical John Baird fashion, it was made in secret with no consultation. If an open and fair consultation produces the same result, so be it. The site of my former workplace, the Carling Building would have the advantage of not disrupting research, and the cafeteria building is still there. There is the slight problem of a geological fault line, but any new building in that area would have to take that into account. I wonder, if the inclusion of Hunt Club locations is just a way to skew the results by making it appear that all possibilities are being looked at when it’s obvious that these sites would be too close to the Queensway Carleton Hospital to make any sense. And while land owned by the federal government would seem to cut costs, should the feds be giving away its own assets to another level? If the value of the land is factored into the equation, perhaps Lincoln Fields would be a good choice. It’s close the the Queensway and will be close the the LRT some day. A bit disjointed, but those are my thoughts.

  3. My choice from the 12 proposed sites would be Tunney’s Pasture (TP).

    It is close to downtown and on the Confederation LRT line. Because of Mayor Jim Watson, Carling will not see LRT for another 50 years, or more. Likewise, the Trillium line will not be double tracked. Therefore, public transit to Carling will remain mediocre for years to come.

    Furthermore, I would give all the Tunney’s Pasture federal lands to the new Civic. TP has been ugly as sin for years — even the Jean Talon tower looks like something out of the communist era. And the recent plans to renew and intensify the TP lands won’t win any architectural awards either. I did support those renewal plans, but the Civic going to TP is a game changer. Indeed, Ken wrote about his opposition to the TP intensification on The Bulldog.

    And car travel to TP is still very good. I’m certain that the NCC would rethink their plan to narrow the Ottawa River Parkway should the Civic move to TP.

    And TP keeps the Experimental Farm lands open to future park development. Someday that jewel is going to be developed into a vast park akin to New York City’s Central Park.

    TP is the winner for me.

    1. Sheridan:

      You could be right. It’s a fine spot but is there enough room for expanding the hospital over the next 75 years?

      I’ve been against Tunney’s Pasture intensification because light rail doesn’t go farther than there and the Parkdale-Queensway interchange is way over capacity.



      1. Ken,

        TP does give the required space for the next X number of years. However, as Nicholas has said, there will probably be a need for a new hospital in the south end (the fastest growing part of the city). Would it not be better to put a new hospital in the south end at that time, rather than expanding the Civic?

        1. Sheridan:

          The Civic has expertise in fields that other hospitals do not.

          I don’t know how that would be affected if there were no room to expand.



          1. Right, I don’t quite understand their strategy, apart from “new and larger.” Also, what are the economics at play?

            We closed the Grace Hospital (converted into a nursing home) and the Riverside Hospital (converted into a diagnostic/day clinic, and with medical offices). We kept the Monfort (S.O.S. Monfort) in the “far east”; and the Queensway-Carleton in the “far west.”

            The General Hospital has turned into a monster that continues to grow. Is the Civic Hospital going to follow the General’s lead? Are mega-hospitals the best healthcare option? I find that the mega-hospital usually has very, very long waiting times in the Emergency Room, and they are usually more motivated to send you home sooner after an operation.

            The Bruyere and St. Vincent’s are at capacity for geriatric and long-term care patients. Do we need to build another such hospital? Would another one of those types of hospitals help ease the burden on the Civic?

            Maybe now is the time for a new hospital in the south-end. Keep the Civic as it is with the Heart Institute, but transfer some surgeries over to a new hospital. Indeed, what would the ER load be at the Civic with a new south-end hospital?

            Has the Ottawa Hospital board done a comprehensive study on all these other possibilities?

  4. While I respect the Friends of the Farm, I’m not sure they get to veto a hospital location because they don’t like it.

    I understand the objections that research has been going on there for some time (decades and decades, I think), but surely that research project doesn’t get to trump anything and everything else forever.

    Tunney’s seems small to me, but I’m no expert. I suppose it might further increase my property values, which is both bad (already getting hosed on property assessment increases and subsequent tax raises) and good (when we pull the trigger on Freedom 55 we can sell our house to be bulldozed for one more concrete and corrugated metal monster at an even more ridiculous sum).

    1. Bob LeDrew,

      Tunney’s Pasture is listed at 20 ha, or about 50 acres. I think the median is 24 ha; Booth is the smallest at 10 ha, while the two largest sites are 40 ha each. I guess design will be a factor in utilizing a smaller area, namely more height to the buildings. Or, is the hospital building-complex design already fixed (at ?) and a larger property just gives more space for future growth?

      Again, the best argument for saving the Experimental Farm lands is to eventually turn it into something similar to New York Central Park.

      1. Sheridan:

        I wonder if the most valuable argument for saving the Experimental Farm isn’t the scientific work it does?



        1. We need to determine how much of the scientific work is site specific. It is my understanding that there are some long term soil condition studies on the land adjacent to Carling Avenue, across from the existing Civic Hospital site. Any disruption of these specific soil study sites would mean that the long term nature of the study would be brought to a halt. In contrast, if the scientific work relates to testing crop yields based on seed type, and/or fertilizer, herbicide or insecticide applications, then perhaps the continuity of the analysis data is not as sensitive to site retention.

  5. For a host of reasons already stated, the best location for the Civic Hospital is the current location of the Civic Hospital.

    It’s really not a small campus compared to most urban hospitals. Indeed, Civic officials were caught out simply making up a provincial minimum of 24 hectares for new hospitals whereas the Ministry reports no such recommendation exists (per Joanne Chianello, CBC).

    Moreover, one has to wonder if the current site might already have a state-of-the-art facility were it not for budget allegedly diverted to construction kickbacks, discovered just months ago.

    Unfortunately, the Civic has made such a scattered, sprawling mess of its current site that it indeed may be more practical to demolish than renew. That the NCC must now find a replacement site for the Civic is no testament to Ottawa development, but rather an indictment of decades of poor planning at the current location.

    1. Once Written Twice Shy,

      Isn’t a significant issue parking? They have run out of parking spots at the current Civic site/neighbourhood. And most people (i.e. hospital workers and visitors) don’t want to take bus public transit (too slow, too unreliable, too crowded, etc.).

      Shouldn’t that make Tunney’s Pasture, on the Confederation LRT line, a leading contender?

      Again, full credit to Mayor Jim Watson for his visionary decision not to put Phase 2 LRT expansion down Carling, as well as refusing to double track the Trillium line.
      Indeed, if the Trillium line were double tracked, then site no. 11 would deserve a lot more attention.

      1. What’s the construction window here, though? Within a few years, there won’t be such demand for parking at hospitals, even distant from transit: most cars will just get sent home on their own, or to their next ride-share.

        Hospitals will still benefit from transit service, though, for reasons other than parking, yet I’m less enthused than others about Tunney’s: it’s at the far north of the Civic’s service area and increasingly difficult to reach by ambulance from any direction. A few more “road diets” and it will be impossible to get there at all.

        Site #11 does look pretty good — and who knows, maybe a hospital is just the added nudge to get Trillium double-tracked. I only hope the Civic is given strict limits on future expansion, lest they squander the whole Farm under their sprawl.

  6. I think the site of the former Carling building, between Carling, Preston and Prince of Wales, is the best one. This location is near the current Civic site, thus it will continue to serve the residents of the near west. It is between the 417 exits at Rochester/Bronson and Parkdale, perhaps even improving access from the highway (Parkdale is a traffic disaster). While I share Sheridan’s assessment that the Trillium line needs to be twinned, it could be by the time that the new Civic campus is opened, assuming that we get some leadership on the matter from our local elected officials. With an LRT stop across Carling (care to build a tunnel from there to the new campus Mr. Mayor?) , some hospital staff may opt to use transit rather than drive, depending on their shift. Finally, it will not disrupt the decades long, site specific, scientific studies that are underway across from the current campus.

  7. The best location for a new hospital is the first one proposed, across from the current hospital.

    Most suggestions do not give the room for expansion that will be required as time goes on, nor do they give the direct/rapid access from the 417. In addition, they do not have the space for the heli-pad that is essential.

    The Civic is the trauma centre, the heart-care centre of this region. Rebuilding on the current site is not a feasible prospect. Space has already been used to its maximum.

    As for staff taking ‘transit’. Shift workers arrive 30 to 45 minutes before their 12-hour shift, if they are lucky they leave 30 to 45 minutes after their shift is supposed to end. So…you are up at 0430/0500…start work at 0700, if you are lucky, you leave at 1945 to 2000, your transit time is 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on where you live (remember, the ‘working employee’s’ are travelling when transit is off-peak hours). So…you get home at 2200 or perhaps later, and you have to be up again at 0500 to repeat the exercise. The parking is inadequate at the Civic, why, because for years the residents in the region have refused to allow a parking garage on Ruskin and, refused to allow the newer garage to be higher than it currently is (a height that it took years to get accepted).

    Government buildings that were closed on the farm, were closed because their work was no longer required, a fact that has not changed.

    When the Civic was built, there was not a argument about the farm land that was being used, it was about it being so far out. You may all recall, Mayor Fisher made the final decision and, as a result, it was nicknamed ‘Fisher’s Foley’.

    This city will continue to expand and history tells us that the city will expand more toward the west than any other direction. Dr. Carruthers knows what he is talking about and is not hung up on what the current green plan is. He, as always, cares most about how we can best care for the people of this city, something that should not be ignored. Dr. Kitts is not looking at the easiest solution either. His primary choice is the same as Dr. Carruthers.

    Go with the original plan. It is the most practical, most logical and will allow for the future expansions that will be necessary to care for the residents of our city.

    1. Anne Marie,

      This is a good debate. I would, however, like to challenge some of your arguments. I’ll list them for convenience:

      1) My favourite choice, Tunney’s Pasture (TP), would give adequate access to the 417. But how many Civic-destination people are coming via the 417? TP gets you downtown more directly.

      2) The Confederation LRT line could work even in favour of shift workers if we plan more Park-And-Ride lots along the Confederation line. Drive to your nearest Park-And-Ride, and then onto the LRT to the Civic. I am not certain when the Confederation daily schedule will begin or end, but it should fit for most workers. And its frequency and grade separation make it a rapid transit system. The objective being less people parking at the Civic.

      3) “Expansion to grow” is a vague concept at the present. You can grow higher, or build an additional hospital (treatment of trauma, etc.) in the south-end to lessen the demand at the Civic.

      4) Why do you claim that there is no space for a heli-pad? I’m certain they could find space on the grounds at TP for a heli-pad. Or, if pressed for space, you could put it on the roof like many American hospitals.

      5) My argument to retain the Experimental Farm is to eventually convert it into a Central Park.

      6) Depends what you mean by “west.” South-west? The southern park of the city is the fastest growing at the moment, and it will probably continue that way for some time. In short, it is moving away from Carling not getting closer. And the downtown is undergoing intensification, which will especially follow the Confederation line.

  8. My vote is that the NCC bin the 2 boring options for LeBreton flats, and if the CIVIC /Ottawa etc hospital must be built on federal land, let it be built there. BUT, first, invite Moshe Safdie, to renew the offer he made to the gov’t of Quebec and his alma mater, McGill, to be on the design committee of a hospital for the 21 Century…they, alas faffed around in the early 90s so he said, hmmm, not what I had in mind, and left.

    This site would be central, could incorporate all manner of 21C knowledge, technology and brilliant ideas.

    Canada is known worldwide for its healthcare; this would be a win for the Hospital, a win for Canada, a win for Ottawa, in that we wouldn’t have Lansdowne Lite downtown also.

      1. Suzanne Mooney,

        The LeBreton Flats’ ship has sailed, but it would have been interesting if a hospital bid had participated in that competition.

        I think there is still enough vacant land available to the west of the LeBreton Flats. Although more condos might be planned for that area — I don’t think anything has officially been decided. My guess is that the hospital board considered that property and decided that Tunney’s Pasture was a better fit.

        What are your thoughts about the Tunney’s Pasture site?


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