Ottawa Civic Hospital update to GACA residents – September 2017

On September 25th, the City of Ottawa and River Ward Councillor Riley Brockington hosted a community information session on the development proposal for the new Civic Hospital Campus, which is to be built at the Sir John Carling site, on the south side of Carling Ave. just west of Dow’s Lake.

While a general overview of the project was provided, the purpose of the meeting was to propose an Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment.

The major change proposed included an Official Plan amendment that would re-designate a 5-hectare parcel of Agricultural Research Area to General Urban Area, and adjust the Experimental Farm Boundary in the Official Plan to reflect the boundary of the new hospital site. Details of the proposal can be found at the following link:

https://app01.ottawa.ca/postingplans/appDetails.jsf?lang=en&appId=__APQ3GQ

There was clearly much interest and concern from area residents expressed at the meeting.

Some of the concerns include:

  • The process by which this agreement occurred – a detailed NCC report recommended Tunney’s pasture for the best location for the civic hospital. The Ottawa Hospital board rejected the report and location, pushing for the Central Experimental Farm land instead. Without further consultation, a decision was quickly taken by the federal government to give the board the location they wanted. (It should be noted, however, that while promised, the land has not yet been transferred.) This decision was felt by many at the meeting to be unfair.
  • The parking lot at Dow’s Lake, bounded by Carling Ave., Preston St. and Prince of Wales Dr., is included in the land that will be given from the federal government. (Queen Juliana Park is also part of this land deal and will also be lost.) Concerns were raised as to what the impact will be on the festivals that take place in the area, such as the Tulip Festival and Winterlude. The impact on local businesses is also a concern – particularly as thousands more people will be moving into the area after a series of high-rise condominiums are built in the area, squeezing parking yet further.
  • The need for the extra land as proposed in the zoning was also a point of concern. While there is a request to remove 5 hectares (more than 12 acres) of land from the Central Experimental Farm, no substantiation was provided as to why that land is required for the hospital site. (Of note, the current Civic Hospital is on 23 acres of land – hospital officials are looking for a parcel more than twice that size, while only increasing the number of beds from 600 to 700 or 800).
  • There was a recommendation proposed to increase the height of the buildings, so as to leave more land untouched. The question of ‘why do you need so much land’ was in essence unanswered, although the hospital responded that the city is growing and that the hospital needs to be prepared. Officials also explained that measures such as individual rooms help to contain the spread of infections and made life better for patients, to justify the need for more space. (They did not, however, answer why more height could not be the solution to this challenge.)
  • The request for additional height was particularly called for with respect to parking. Preliminary drawings indicate that more than a third of the land is planned to be dedicated to parking and internal roads, with parking and driving space planned to take up as much land as the hospital building itself. In the past, the hospital voiced that it was reticent to build a multiple storey parking garage (citing cost, even though approximately $4 million in parking revenue is generated annually at the current Civic Hospital). When questioned about the type of parking envisaged for this space, and if it was to be multi-storey, the city responded that a parking strategy may be asked for in the future. (The hospital did not respond.)
  • There was much concern voiced over the fact that the public is being asked to cite its concerns with respect to zoning now, with so much information missing. Currently, there is no Traffic Study, Environmental Impact Study, Heritage Study, Site Plan, transportation plan or parking strategy. The city reassured attendees that all studies will be completed before the site plan application is approved, and that there would be a holding provision in place until that point, but – this does not preclude a decision from being made on zoning.

The next steps:

  • Planning Committee will consider the Zoning and Official Plan Amendment report, which will also lay out what studies/reports are required in order to lift the holding provision (expected in January 2018)
  • Applicant submits the site plan control application
  • Public consultation/meeting will be held regarding the site plan application (which will show a more detailed plan)
  • There will be an issue resolution period on site plan matters
  • Staff will bring forward a report to Planning Committee recommending approval of the site plan (and removal of holding provisions)

GACA’s Perspective

We share many of the concerns that were raised at the meeting. One that particularly resonates, and is tied to the zoning question at issue is the necessity of giving up Central Experimental Farm land without justifying the necessity. Using height and density, urban hospitals have been built on a much smaller footprint than currently envisaged. We believe that before valuable greenspace in the heart of the city is simply given away, there should be justification and a demonstrated need for each acre.

Although the issue of land and zoning are the first ones to be considered, there are other issues that will need to be considered. We encourage Glebe Annex residents to write and voice their views and concerns to the city.

Public Consultations are being extended until the end of November – we encourage anyone who has an interest in or concern about this to write to: