An artist rendering of mega-hospital for Windsor-Essex. (CTV Windsor)

Windsor city council voted 7-4 in favour of moving forward with the proposed mega hospital.

Mayor Drew Dilkens asked council to officially support the new regional acute care hospital at the intersection of County Road 42 and 9th Concession at Monday’s council meeting.

Windsor Regional Hospital announced on Oct. 16 it had officially acquired ownership of the 60-acre property more than five years after the site was chosen.

Seconding the motion, councillor Fred Francis spoke to his own experiences spending time in Windsor hospitals, and having to travel out of the city for important health tests.

“The discussion of location never came up,” he said. “It was ‘what’s your diagnosis? What’s your prognosis?’ And ‘can you believe these facilities?’”

“For me, it’s always been about patient care,” Francis said.

Council heard from various delegates on both sides of the proposed location debate for more than four hours before voting on the motion.

While those urging council to vote against the motion were in favour of new hospital facilities and the need to invest in healthcare, the delegates speaking against the site addressed climate concerns, removing jobs and business from the downtown core and that the proposed site is too far for vulnerable populations and those living in lower-income communities.

Delegate Princess Doe said the plan did not consult with racialized communities and moving health services to the proposed location would “create even more inequality.”

She suggested a reset on the proposed mega-hospital plan to come together for a more equitable plan.

Councillors, Fabio Costante, Rino Bortolin, Chris Holt, and Kieran McKenzie, who voted against the motion cited not having enough information on the long term impact, and issues of equity, which Bortolin said “are impossible to ignore.”

Noting he has heard from many that the proposed location is “flawed,” he said, “we can do better, we can change course and improve upon this plan. A new plan does not mean a lengthy delay.”

Delegates in support of the proposed site pointed to the need for updated infrastructure for the hospital, job creation, and a need for more private rooms, and noted it is time to get going on the project without further delays.

Dr. Wassim Saad, Windsor Regional Hospital chief of staff, told council only about 20 per cent of rooms at the current hospital sites are private and that the hospital is “quite literally running out of space.”

He said the current facilities are “relocks of decades’ past” when capacity needs and understanding of infectious diseases were different.

Dilkens said the motion Monday was about garnering support to bring to the province in an effort to prioritize funding.