By Bhagwant Sandhu and Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, June 2021)
In the spring of 2018, the Ottawa Hospital constituted a Campus Engagement Group (CEG) to provide input and advice in the planning of the Hospital’s new campus. We represented the Glebe Community Association, the Dows Lake Residents’ Association, and the Glebe Annex Community Association on the CEG. While the CEG’s work is now complete as the Hospital moves into its next stage of planning, we plan to remain engaged as members of the community.
Last month, the Ottawa Hospital released revised plans for its new civic campus. Gone is the circular doughnut shaped design and bulking block diagrams. They have been replaced by a central building flanked by two wings, one seven stories and the other 11, with the main entrance off Carling Avenue.
The plans are part of the site development plan application that the Ottawa Hospital has submitted to the City of Ottawa. The full package is posted on the City of Ottawa’s website at https://devapps.ottawa.ca/en/applications/D07-12-21-0059/details. It includes countless technical reports and drawings ranging from a transportation assessment to noise and vibration studies.
The application will be voted on by Ottawa City Council in early October 2021. In the interim, officials from the City will be seeking public input on the application. Community organizations, special interest groups representing environmental concerns, accessibility, rural Ontarians, Indigenous groups and other interested individuals are being invited to review the application and provide their feedback over the summer months.
As we see it, the plan submitted by the Hospital is generally good news, but with a few sprinkles of less good news on issues that have been major preoccupations for local neighbourhoods. Consider parking as an example. The Hospital expects one million people to access the site annually, which translates into approximately 2,700 people per day. Although the hospital plans to encourage alternate modes of transportation such as public transit and biking, many of those visits are expected to be by private vehicles. As such, the new campus will provide 2,500 parking spaces in its main parking garage, located near Carling Avenue.
On a positive note, there will not be surface parking in this garage. However, it will be developed over top of the current Queen Juliana Park. There will be two levels below ground and four levels above, and it will be topped with greenspace, including trees and possibly interpretive gardens. Construction of the garage is expected to start as early as next year so as to have a place for contractors and vehicles to park during the main build of the site, which is expected to take place between 2024 and 2028.
The same mixed news is true also for the Light Rail Transit station. Dow’s Lake Station will be linked to the Hospital with a covered walkway to make it as sheltered from the weather, comfortable and convenient as possible, but the station itself is expected to remain on the north side of Carling.
Another issue of concern and interest for local communities is the issue of noise from ambulances and emergency vehicles. Ambulances will not be arriving at the front of hospital at Carling, but will instead arrive at the back – the main ambulance entry point is expected to be Maple Lane (west of the hospital buildings), with another ambulance entry from Prince of Wales Drive.
All in all, there are many positive things about the plan. The Hospital extolls the future site as a “state-of-the-art facility, home to the most advanced trauma centre, one of the most innovative neuroscience research programs in the world,” with advanced digital technology that will provide patients with new treatments and services. Indeed, the campus itself, with trees and greenspace, private rooms and an abundance of natural light, will be a much-needed advancement from the current Civic campus which was built nearly one hundred years ago.
This construction of the Ottawa Hospital involves all three levels of governments, with tranches of funding tied to various stages of approvals. The best way to remain connected with the ongoing progress is to periodically check its website at newcivicdevelopment.ca, or to sign up for the Hospital’s “Checkpoint” newsletter, also from their website.