UPDATED: Approval Given for New Hospital Site
Leaders in Windsor-Essex are pointing to a court decision as a key win for the single-site acute care hospital project.
On Wednesday, the Ontario Divisional Court released its ruling dismissing a motion for a leave to appeal from the Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process (CAMPP). CAMPP sought the leave to appeal to overturn its dismissed December 2019 appeal.
"This is welcomed news for the residents of Windsor and Essex County," said Gary McNamara, the Warden of the County of Essex and Mayor of Tecumseh. "It is imperative that we continue to move forward with the single-site acute care hospital project, which is paramount for the efficient and effective delivery of modern healthcare that all our residents need and deserve."
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says both the premier and health minister have been made aware of the decision and hopes to unlock $10-million in announced funding for the next phase of the project.
"This ruling doesn't mean that we get the shovels in the ground next week or even next year but, hopefully, it marks an end to the needless delays that have set our region back," said Dilkens in an online video news conference.
Justice Gregory Verbeem denied CAMPP's motion and ordered the grassroots group to pay more than $25,000 in legal costs to the City of Windsor and Windsor Regional Hospital.
CAMPP has opposed the chosen location for the new hospital at the edges of the city boundary at County Road 42 and the 9th Concession. The group had looked to appeal to the divisional court after losing its appeal of the city's rezoning decision for the hospital land at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
In a statement, Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for CAMPP, says while there is no ability to appeal the leave decision, there are other matters that can be directly appealed to the Divisional Court.
“The decision is somewhat difficult to reconcile with some of the existing decisions,” said Gillespie. “As a result, we will be continuing to review the case. A decision regarding an appeal(s) will be announced once it has been reached, which will be shortly.”
Dilkens appreciates the project generates strong feelings but, says it's time for the region to rally around the project despite reservations some may continue to hold.
"I appreciate that you may continue to have strong feelings about the location and in our democratic society, that is your right, but the process has run its course and now is the time for our community to unite around an even greater common goal -- which is getting this project built," said Dilkens.
According to Dilkens, the appeals likely have cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars but, could not confirm a dollar figure. What may be more important according to the mayor, is the time lost due to the legal wrangling.
"Essentially we've lost time and so, where other projects are being booked and scheduled in the provincial budget we've lost the opportunity to get the necessary work that would be required in phase 2 and stage 2 to see us get to the next stage after that," said Dilkens.
According to McNamara, nearly $20-million has been saved in reserves by area municipalities towards the project.
Dilkens believes the region's new hospital facilities, replacing the Windsor Regional Ouellette and Metropolitan campuses, could be completed by 2025.