Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process
While building on undeveloped agricultural lands may create short term financial gains for those in the construction and related industries, there are many longer term consequences. In this blog, we explore key issues -- the reasons why CAMPP continues to challenge Windsor Regional Hospital and Windsor City Council plans to develop Sandwich South.
If you believe in responsibly planned and maintained communities,
please donate to our legal appeal. Go to our website: www.windsormegahospital.ca
Just this week: A social media firestorm erupted in response to a Facebook post by Windsor's mayor - - who used Facebook to "explain" an act of private property vandalism against a CAMPP supporter.
A handful of Facebook posts on the topic have now generated 800+ comments. The social media platform has become the de facto forum for the mega-hospital debate. CAMPP does not oppose the construction of a new hospital. We are challenging Windsor Regional Hospital's (WRH) chosen location 15 km from the region's largest population centre. It's the #1 reason CAMPP filed for an LPAT review of the City's planning decision.
Among the mayor's Facebook comments, he promised that an "emergency room" would remain in downtown Windsor. According to Ontario.ca, anEmergency Room (ER) provides treatment of "severe illnesses and life-threatening injuries 24 hours a day, 365 days a year." This type of facility has never been proposed as a replacement for WRH's Ouellette Campus.
On October 31, 2019, The Windsor Star reporteda motorist had driven onto and across the property of an East Windsor resident and removed a lawn sign.Responding to the story, Windsor's mayor chose to use his official Facebook account to share some controversial thoughts on this apparent act of vandalism. This led to a deluge of online comments that quickly took on a life of their own.
Ironically, in the six years since WRH proposed its single site acute care hospital, the local community has never been provided with an appropriate public forum to discuss the $2 billion plan for its future healthcare. Is it any wonder that residents took to social media to vent?
There has never been an opportunity for residents to provide feedback that wasn't supportive of the plan - - - WRH's contractually silencing doctors opposed to the plan has not helped the public's understanding of it. Nor - - since the 2015 County Road 42 site announcement - - hasthe proposed location for the new hospital ever been debated at a Windsor City Council meeting. No public referendum was ever held. Yet, the Mayor trumpeted an extremely wishful "~90%+ of Windsorites" wish to see "this project move forward" as fact on his official Facebook page. Where is the data proving that Windsor residents overwhelmingly support the County Road 42 site?
Social media is not the right platform to be arguing about this serious matter. It's a decision that will affect the health and wellness of our community for decades to come. This discussion certainly shouldn't be led in a reckless manner. It's careless at best and a flagrant misuse of the Mayor's elected position at worst. And it comes at a very inappropriate time while we await the LPAT ruling on CAMPP's historic appeal.
Rhys Trenhaile, the property owner, described the incident on his Facebook page on October 30, 2019. He added:
"There’s been a lot of talk lately in Windsor-Essex about the issues with virtually all hospital officials now using misleading language that tends to nastily divide the citizenry in regard to the location of the future mega hospital.
By far the greatest fallacy in this whole argument, pushed by these very same hospital officials, is this continued narrative that people that don’t want a hospital in the middle of nowhere - don’t want a hospital at all; that is the great lie. Everyone wants a shiny new hospital. Everyone."
Windsor residents don't oppose a new hospital. They just want a responsible location.
Mayor Drew Dilkens responded to the story on his official Facebook page. Rather than acknowledging the important distinction between choosing a responsible location and wanting a new hospital, he used the social media platform to diminish and belittle CAMPP's arguments. He also wrote that he appreciated "the frustration that many feel every time they see a sign that shows opposition to a plan that would significantly enhance our local health care system."
UCC vs. ER: Understanding the difference is a matter of life and death
Windsor's mayor was elected to represent his constituents. Yet, rather than addressing the significant concerns thousands of engaged residents have publicly expressed during the last six years, he chooses to perpetuate a false narrative. Particularly disappointing is how he keeps publicly emphazing that under the plan, WRH Ouellette Campus is going to keep its ER.
In fact, there has never been an announcement that anything other than urgent care services will remain in downtown Windsor. At the LPAT hearing just last month, we don't recall the lawyers representing WRH stating that the original plans for a downtown UCC (to replace both existing acute care hospital campuses) had been shelved.
We wrote about the fundamental distinctions between urgent and emergency care in our eblast on August 18, 2019. For the benefit of our newest subscribers, here is the instruction provided to patients in Brampton:
#JustTheFacts: Residents deserve honest and accurate information from elected officials
We are calling for a straight answer: Has the plan for an Urgent Care Centre in Downtown Windsor been replaced by a plan for an Emergency Department? In other words, will WRH Ouellette Campus remain open as an acute care hospital? Because you can't have an ER without a hospital on the same premises.
In their own words: Members of our community continue to comment on the issues
"The hospital needs to be central to the people. If for no other reason than for their own safety.
One mega-hospital constructed on the edge of the built environment, away from the core, and the centre of the overall population, is a risk to the public good, safety and welfare"
"Keep up the good work CAMPP! Yes we need a hospital that is accessible .I really cant beleive Windsor has to fight to keep hospitsls here or from them putting a hospital way out of reach.No windsorite should be forced to fight for something that is needed to stay close by where it can be accessed by some of Windsors most vulnerable citizens"
"I agree that it is very sad indeed that it has come to this sort of nonsense, perpetrated by these supposed pillars of our community! So disheartening, and frustrating!!!"
"Windsor deserves a state-of-the art medical system. Properly planned to save lives."
"Nobody is against a new hospital, they are against the location."
"Yes, a new “state of the art” hospital is everyone’s desire. There are a few choice properties within the City of Windsor to accommodate such a mega hospital. We cannot give up the fight!"
"We got our sign vandalized, then a few days later stolen."
"The hospital leaders should be more inclusive and they should be looking to work with community partners on a plan that is best for all of us not just the wealthy!!"
"Windsor could be a really world-class city if it embraced things like density and innovation as opposed to just outward sprawl"
"Emergency care and urgent care are two very different scenarios. It is my understanding you cannot support an Emergency room downtown without an attached Hospital. "
"it's a false narrative that is being pushed on the people of Windsor and Essex county. No one is going to lose a hospital if there is more thought and reasoning put into its location. The province is not going to strand over 300 thousand people without acceptable hospital facilities. Wake up. There are a few people who stand to gain a tremendous amount financially by putting a mega hospital 10 km outside the core of the city."
"Windsor needs at least two acute care hospitals and if only one true severe trauma emergency hospital it should be in the population center. Detroit burned, deteriorated lost well over half it’s population but they kept their hospitals open in the city core which the new development rose from around them.
This is the glue that any major metro area needs."
"I do not accept that bullying and shaming should ever be a part of policy making."
If you enjoy reading our eblasts and would like to read past issues - we've put them in a blog for you! Our 2019 eblasts delving into ACUTE topics such as Access to healthcare, Costs to the community, responsible Urban planning, Transparency of governance and Environmental impact are archived at this link:
While we await the LPAT decision, members of our community continue to comment on the issues:
"It makes me weep at the most GRACIOUS effort of citizens, everyone that has donated time and dollars to this fight,looking out for one another ALL in the face of a city that has cast aside its residents-refusing to acknowledge a single concern-for short term development dollars and dreams. A city, in 2019 making health care/ environmental catastrophic planning decisions...and going at it like it’s no big deal. "
"Je suis né à Windsor et du côté planification urbaine c est un désastre de mettre un hôpital à l'extérieur de la ville. C'est triste et pas dans l'intérêt des citoyens."
"When I raised the issue of the proposed megahospital being inaccessible for those like me who rely on public transit, I was told to move closer to it by supporters of the plan."
"Windsor isn't the only hospital that can't manage on the current budget but it isn't doing well. Some of the ones doing worse are the ones that already have new hospitals."
"It is sort of ironic the development depends on ERCA at a time when ERCA is seeing cutbacks."
"The tribunal DOES NOT decide anything about healthcare. The tribunal DOES look at planning matters & if Windsor can afford a new community."
"No hospital now or in the near future will be able to handle, let alone cope with the tsunami of the coming aging population. Sorry #42forward, there will never be enough private rooms in the proposed hospital on CR42 to accommodate all those that will be dying."
"Every city I check has a hospital for every 200,000 to 250,000 people. Why are we going to have one for 400,000?"
"On this day I am thankful for all of you, that you have encouraged & fought this fight, on behalf of everyone; especially the ones that do not even appreciate it."
Our LPAT hearing wrapped up this week after three intense days. We now await Scott Tousaw, the Tribunal Member presiding over CAMPP's appeal, to deliver his ruling.
Mr. Tousaw did not indicate when we could expect a decision. It may take several months.
“I think our client is very pleased that the concerns they wanted to raise have been put forward, that the evidence that they wanted to rely on has been put in front of the tribunal, and now we’re in the hands of the tribunal member to await his decision,” Eric Gillespie, CAMPP's lawyer, told The Windsor Star after the hearing ended on Thursday, October 10, 2019.
Challenging Windsor City Council's August 2018 decision to rezone Sandwich South (proposed location for a new single site acute care hospital) continues to be an incredible, community-wide effort. This new hospital would replace the City's two current centrally located acute care hospital campuses and create access barriers for many of the region's most vulnerable residents. Thank you to the thousands of local residents who support CAMPP; those deeply concerned about the future health of Windsor-Essex, and the democratic processes that shape it.
Many thanks especially to those of you who have contributed so generously to our GoFundMe campaign launched in February 2019. Together, you have helped us raise over $81,000.
However, we are still $19,000 short of our $100,000 fundraising goal -- money needed to pay our LPAT legal costs.
There is still time to make your donation while we wait for the final bills from last week's LPAT hearing.
"Major investments of public funds should not be used to "anchor" suburban sprawl while hundreds of hectares of land within our city lie vacant. Rather, this multi-billion dollar project should contribute to the redevelopment of our city's core and/or a brownfield site within the develped footprint of Windsor. This is our money. This is our hospital. This is our city. We must use our land and financial resources wisely to achieve the greatest benefit for our citizens now and for decades to come."
"the written presentation is excellent!
i am truly grateful for the well-woven synthesis of issues, the particularity of the many failures to comply and the efforts of individual statements that surface to illustrate cogently the human factor that such planning should revolve around. very proud of CAMPP today."
"We grow veggies on just 4 acres of our property for 100 CSA families plus the farmer's market with plenty to spare and donate to our local food bank we also provided one seasonal full-time job (me) and four part-time summer jobs this year. X that by 6 or 24 acres that would [feed] 600 families + perhaps several markets + 6 full-time seasonal jobs and 24 seasonal summer jobs. Every acre counts"
"Moving our hospital institutions from our city core to the proposed county location will cause both CIVIC DECAY and URBAN SPRAWL. Practices which have been detrimental to general health and welfare.
It's ironic then, a new hospital would instead be detrimental to health.
THE HOSPITAL SHOULD BE IN THE CITY CORE."
"My mom’s neighbourhood is full of low income and elderly. Also plenty of people with little education and weak language skills. They need services to be close and easy to access. Otherwise, their lives deteriorate a bit with each decision to sprawl our city despite its static population. An anchor institution in our community for 100 plus years is called an anchor for a reason. Times may change, but anchor institutions remain. They give citizens and investors hope and comfort. A local hospital doesn’t just heal sick people. It is a point around which a community is built."
"Our core will be further undermined if this insane plan goes through. Imagine any downtown in the world without a 24hr hospital. Then imagine us."
Tuesday, October 8 - Thursday, October 10, 2019 Start time is 10:00 a.m. If you plan to attend, please check CAMPP's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/megahospital for start times and other updates each day
We need $23,000 to reach our $100,000 fundraising goal -- to pay the legal costs of this historic appeal
If you've been waiting to make your donation, now is the time!
Thank you to each and every one of you who contributed so generously to our legal fund since we launched this campaign in February 2019.
Some of you have made multiple donations. One of our donors even shared a modest lottery win with us! Many of you donated anonymously because you didn't want your employer to know.
If you've enjoyed reading our weekly eblasts and would like a reminder of the content we've sent your way, we've put them in a blog for you. If you missed any of them, you can see all thirty that we wrote in 2019 at this link:
Recap: About the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) Process The role of LPAT is to review whether a municipal decision complies with its own Official Plan, and with Provincial Planning Policy. If LPAT finds the municipality hasn't complied with these policies, the decision being appealed will be sent back for reconsideration.
City decision-makers and local residents should trust this appeal system as a necessary part of the checks and balances to ensure informed and consistent municipal decision-making.
LPAT ensures transparency and good governance!
For six years, hospital planners have only welcomed positive opinions, while disparaging all public expressions of concern. Please encourage friends and neighbours to learn about the importance of the LPAT process, while this independent tribunal reviews the facts of our case.
28 participants were approved to join CAMPP's LPAT challenge of Windsor City Council's approval of the project. With the exception of Windsor Regional Hospital, NO OTHER pro-CR42 parties were approved to participate in the legal proceedings.
This is democracy in action!
In their own words: Weekly round-up
of comments from our friends and neighbours
"Do you want to know the best way for us to reduce our dependancy on fossil fuels and fight climate change?
Build towns and cities in a way that don’t require us to drive to every destination in our daily routine.
It’s that simple."
"A new hospital isn't the debate and one poignant story doesn't mitigate the disaster of ripping critical infrastructure from the core. Local elites have made this a win/lose proposition from beginning for benefit of developers."
"Urban sprawl is the name of the game for Windsor. First the arena, now the hospitals. Farm land being destroyed at a rapid pace, already developers are planning for all the areas south of County Road 42, more subdivisions are planned. Medical offices will leave downtown to be near the hospital furthering the downtown decline. Our city leaders will never change. There are so many areas near the core that are ripe for redeveloping. Walking the streets of downtown is depressing compared to other lively cities - where did we go wrong. Surely could have used a downtown arena and entertainment centre, Need to rethink city planning. All this spreading out and paving over more land will only bring more problems with flooding."
"Planting trees is fantastic, but with regards to sprawl, its like putting a band-aid on a tumor."
"I believe most in the know believe more manufacturing and industrial jobs will be lost in the coming decade . Sandwich south is like a make work project that will be a tax on Windsor residents and will displace services, reduce access , and add to blight in the city core."
"In a world where climate change is at the forefront of public discussion Mr. Muysj and his team are pushing to build more automobile sprawl on prime farmland... unreal."
"it's not about who is "pleased". It's about the flawed decision process and location."
"the biggest reason for not having it at the location is access and a weak transportation system in the whole area"
"Free speech as long as you agree"
"Windsor has more at risk with infrastructure costs, which the county won't be paying for. Costs to service the area, which the county won't be paying for. Also factor in that the hospital will be further for a good portion of Windsor residents. "
"If the CEO had not got rid of 70 workers, maybe it would not have fallen into disrepair. He is letting it go to ruin to get his new hospital. Yes, we want a new hospital but within the city NOT on precious farmland."
"People tend to purchase homes based on their proximity to schools, hospitals etc. There must be thousands of folk out there who bought houses near the current hospitals who now face the possibility of having to travel much further and for much longer than they ever anticipated."
"Old, fat, suburban, white, car-centric, privileged, relatively affluent. Shame on these people for throwing everyone else under the bus."
"Will this mega-hospital actually have the mega-operating budget and mega-staff needed to actually function like a mega-hospital...mega-doubts."
"I'd really like to hear why they feel that this location, with its poor access for Windsorites and all of its quarter billion dollars in infrastructure upgrade costs, solely borne by Windsorites, is so much better than the the next two sites looked at by the committee.
Both of those sites have better accessibility and both would cost millions less in Windsor taxpayer funded infrastructure upgrades."
"Build up Leamington hospital to provide better quality and access to people in the County! Nobody in this city is against a “new” hospital but the proposed location will leave much of the population without timely access. The current plan is flawed because it is a shiny new building with no increase in the number of beds and NO new services. This is outrageous for a Region of our size! ALSO the current plan is flawed environmentally... building on greenfield when we should be building on brownfield. It encourages sprawl and it’s going to cost this city millions in infrastructure costs. Money we don’t have to maintain current infrastructure!!! STOP THE MEGA MISTAKE before it’s too late."
Please continue to send us your comments. We love to amplify our supporters' viewpoints.
So where do Windsor-Essex residents stand on this issue? There's no debate about the need for provincial investment in our health care infrastructure. But the proposed physical location of this investment continues to be the subject of extensive, sustained local public opposition. Since 2014, there have been many excellent examples of the community's widespread disapproval regarding the deeply flawed plan to build a new, single site acute care hospital on active farmland adjacent to Windsor Airport, far from the region's most densely populated neigbourhoods. Here are some:
1) Thousands of Windsor and Essex County households displayed lawn signs protesting the planned mega-hospital location:
Click the image above to view the interactive map that shows where our lawn signs were installed.
2) A recent CTV News poll showed a clear majority does not favour the exurban hospital site:
3) At the nine-hour long, August 13, 2018 Windsor City Council meeting at which the hospital zoning was approved, 37 of the 45 attending delegates voiced factual concerns about the proposal. Of the 8 remaining delegates supporting the proposal, 7 were developers, representatives of developers, or landowners. Only one delegate who favored the proposal was a resident without any apparent financial interests in the location. More than 20 written submissions expressing negative concerns about the site were also presented to Council during that meeting.
4) 33 delegates spoke of their concerns, for the location of the hospital at the April 25, 2016 Windsor City Council meeting at which the tax levy for the 10% local share of the cost of the hospital was approved. They included subject experts, as well as socio-economic demographics.
6) Four Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) pledged their financial support for the LPAT challenge on behalf of their member businesses with concerns about the impact of the loss of two institutions (employing more than 4,000).
How much more evidence is needed to prove the community's widespread resistance to this flawed plan?