Sunday, January 19, 2020

A costly proposition: Does Windsor's new transit plan improve accessibility to the CR42 hospital location?

Or is it an expensive plan that will encourage even more private vehicle use in the future? 

In November 2019, following a year long process, Transit Windsor unveiled More Than Transit, its new public transit master plan. If approved by Windsor City Council, it will completely overhaul the city's bus routes, replacing the ones in use since 2006.

Tomorrow, January 20, 2020, Windsor City Council will be asked to approve the new plan.

In the Master Plan, Transit Windsor decision makers indicate a need for frequent bus service to encourage more use of public transportation.
"A bus coming less frequently than every 20 minutes can add a lot of time to an individual’s trip if they miss their connection or are a couple minutes late. This makes taking transit very inconvenient and undesirable for someone who has access to other transportation alternatives."

-- More Than Transit, page 4
Yet, there is little evidence suggesting this was a priority in the new transit plan for routes to the proposed County Road 42 (CR42) hospital location. 

Providing enough public transit to properly serve Windsor Regional Hospital's (WRH) planned rural location adjacent to Windsor Airport may prove to be overwhelmingly costly to both taxpayers and public transit users.

So, rather than increasing transit usage, WRH - Windsor's second-largest employer – may ultimately force even more private vehicle use with their plan for the new regional hospital system.

This is the exact opposite of the goal envisioned and outlined in Windsor’s new public transit plan.

How is this conceivable when the new WRH healthcare and public transit systems will need to sustainably serve local residents for generations to come?

Why was the CR42 site selected without realistic (and affordable) consideration of public transit?

Windsor residents are entitled to explanations for these and other critical issues:
  1. Only two of the four new routes created to service CR42 will offer bus service every 15 minutes during "peak" times. The other two routes will operate much less frequently during "peak" times - just twice an hour. Nights, weekends and holidays, these new routes will offer even less service. The majority of transit users will need at least one transfer to get to the CR42 location.
  2. No direct connections will run from the planned Ouellette site Urgent Care Centre (UCC) to CR42. This will affect patients with referrals for treatment that cannot be provided at an urgent care centre. There is also no direct connection from the UCC to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare Tayfour Campus (HDGH).
  3. It's not just the patients: Public transit will be an unattractive option for healthcare workers and volunteers who don't live along direct bus routes. Many of WRH's 4,000+ healthcare workers, especially those living in neighbourhoods near Met Campus, walk to the hospital. How many will have to take more than one bus to get to CR42, making public transit an unappealing option?
    Diagram (below) of the 750-metre walking route from the proposed downtown Windsor UCC to the nearest bus stop to the new hospital site based on Transit Windsor's new master plan. 
    For households between Howard Avenue and Lauzon Parkway, no direct bus routes are planned to the proposed new hospital site based on Transit Windsor's new master plan.
    The map below highlights the 40 sq. km. area between Howard Avenue and Lauzon Parkway. The area, with 85k+ residents, has no direct hospital routes under Transit Windsor's new configuration.
    • This is a 40 sq. km. area encompassing the densely populated wards 4,5,6 and 8, i.e. the long-established neighbourhoods of Walkerville, South Walkerville, Fontainbleu, Riverside, East Windsor and part of Forest Glade.
    • This area measures 7 km. from east to west. It's home to many seniors, people with impaired mobility and residents living on fixed incomes. The route configuration of Transit Windsor's new master plan creates a major impediment to efficient and affordable access to healthcare.
    • These 4 wards in Windsor have over 85,000 residents. That's four times the population density of the next two largest communities in the entire Essex County region. Lakeshore, the second largest municipality, with 37,000 residents, is spread over 69 sq. km. Lasalle, the third largest municipality, has a population of 30,000 across 65 sq. km. For reference: Windsor, the largest municipality in Essex County, has a total population of 217,000.
    If the new hospital were to be located closer to where the most people already live, the planned new public transportation system could provide better and more cost-effective reasons to take the bus. 
    CLICK HERE for a complete breakdown and analysis
    of these issues, including transit maps, schedules and data
    There's no debate about the importance of access: it's the one thing everybody agrees on.

    How could it make sense to any planner to locate the new single site acute care hospital where it forces public transit to circumnavigate Windsor Airport? Why did hospital site decision makers not prioritize proximity to direct public transit routes that efficiently serve population-dense neighbourhoods?

    In an era when even the most car-centric communities in the world are investing in active transportation, is Windsor the last city still building for single vehicle use?
    To Be Continued
    Stay tuned:  In another eblast, we'll examine more questions around Windsor's new public transit master plan.
    In their own words: Members of our community
    continue to comment on the issues, especially about recent degrading social media activity directed towards CAMPP and its supporters on the online platforms of elected and unelected officials:
    "I stand behind CAMPP 100% despite all the negativity and hatred being sent their way... this plan stinks and the process was rigged and corrupted from the onset. How on earth we even consider automobile sprawl to be an acceptable development pattern in a time when our environment, municipal finances and social well-being is at the forefront of public discussion is beyond me. The city and WRH have done literally NOTHING but push back since CAMPP began expressing concerns almost 7 years ago.... and they’ve done nothing to address the very real issues with their plan... nothing."
    "The behaviour of Mayor Dilkens and Mr. Musyj raises serious questions about whether they can provide the kind of leadership (our community needs and deserves.)"
    "Build hospitals where people live. The plan needs to be socially, environmentally, and financially sound. The current one is NOT. The hospital needs new leadership. Good Leadership that can listen to both side and bring people together without being insulting and condescending!"
    "It strikes me that, if the province would have mounted a similar comprehensive fully public inclusive consultation process such as DRIC was for the more recent regional healthcare study...instead of entrusting our future to self-interested hospital bureaucrats in cahoots with local political hacks, producing such flawed results...the outcome would have had far more universal support...and there would be no "mega-hospital" in a bean field.!"
    "If you want to sit in any chair of leadership you listen to everything that is brought to you and if you cannot, you don't belong there.   I wish more could do this, no matter their chair - mother, father, teacher, union leader, business manager, mayor."
    "The  new  hospital will  have the  same  number of hospital beds that we  currently have. We have OR rooms that are closed , or unfunded as are beds unfunded. I want a clear  answer on if the new  hospital  will have  funding for opening up OR rooms and beds, that are  now unfunded or closed."
    "The new hosp is a grave concern, with no increases  in beds or  services, but  a shiny new shell. In a farm field.

    Also questionable  judgement in leadership  financial decisions,  ie heatthy  kids program  funding declined, severe  flooding issues, road infrastructure eroding, sewer issues, not  being responsibly managed, allowing  public  buildings to  decay from  lack of proper maintenance,  all  irresponsible spending.

    Taxpayers left holding the  bag

    Generations burdened in  debt"
    "The opposition is about location and not about a new hospital. But this is how the supporters of the 42 site are framing the issue. It's a classic "us versus them" situation."
    "I'd be willing to hear facts refuting CAMPP's many pages of researched info."
    "No reason to build on greenfield if other options are available."
    "Are the people who are pro new hospital on the proposed site climate deniers? Do they deny the science of run-offs causing more water with nowhere to go."
    "I have yet to meet anyone opposed to a new hospital, including CAMPP, it's the location. I'm 100% behind CAMPP as a Farmer trying to preserve farmland, as an environmentalist trying to prevent unnecessary urban sprawl and as a caring human being trying to maintain access to some of the most vulnerable people in Windsor/Essex and an area with the highest population density. Yes we deserve a new hospital, but we can do better then this."
    "I don’t get [Windsor Star Columnist] Ann Jarvis. One minute she says ‘get on with the building of the new hospital’ and the next ‘ we need to stop sprawling out’."
    "The location is a poor decision. If we are going to build a hospital, then build it where it will benefit the health and well being of the majority of citizens and of those most in need. I disagree with the location even more when I look at it from an environmental standpoint."

    Sunday, January 5, 2020

    It's time for more respectful discussion

    For the past six years, hospital planners have been telling Windsor Essex residents to "let the process play out."  For just as long, local elected and unelected officials have assured us "it's a done deal" - even in the years prior to the August 2018 approval of the Sandwich South development. Supportive opinions were welcomed and amplified, while public expressions of concern were disparaged. Throughout the planning process, medical professionals associated with Windsor Regional Hospital have been unable to publicly express their concerns for fear of reprisal.

    Don’t believe those who now loudly argue that CAMPP's legal appeal is a delaying tactic or a burden to taxpayers. Our goal is to ensure all the proper steps have been taken, before finalizing a decision with health, economic and environmental consequences that will affect the region’s well-being for generations to come. We are advocating for transparency: disclosing all the costs that will be imposed on our community if the 1,000 acre (400 ha.) Sandwich South development, anchored by the new hospital, goes ahead as proposed.

    In December 2019, the heated debate about the location of our community's new acute care hospital reached a new low. It was fueled by several highly inflammatory postings on social media pages controlled by persons in significant public leadership positions.

    CAMPP is an entirely volunteer group. And we put considerable effort into maintaining decorum with all public postings and comments. Our supporters have diverse backgrounds and a broad range of political views: and yet, by setting a respectful tone, we listen to, and learn from each other.

    We're aware how easy it is to inadvertently write something that can be misinterpreted. Several diligent volunteers monitor CAMPP-owned and operated social media platforms. Our moderators take their role seriously to maintain a restrained and respectful public discourse.

    We welcome discussion and different points of view: we therefore seldom restrict membership to our public social media accounts. However, we do ask that members act politely. Several years ago we changed the group's privacy settings in response to a number of offensive posts. Since then, we've vetted the comments to avoid alienating those wanting to discuss the facts. Because of our policy, it's easier to write without fear of inflammatory reactions and trolling behaviour by a small group of instigators.

    There is no place for personal insults or attacks, nor bullying, defamatory, threatening or factually incorrect statements. 

    We encourage elected and unelected officials, including hospital decision makers, especially those on the public payroll, to start upholding a more professional standard in their own social media postings. They need to closely monitor the comments by others on pages under their control.

    We hope 2020 will finally mark a turning point in the tone of public discourse. We encourage officials involved in this process to promote a more respectful and factually-based public discussion. It's time to extinguish the aggressive and defamatory comments.
    In their own words: Members of our community
    continue to comment on the issues
    "Real leadership listens to opposition and improves a project by integrating resolutions addressing the weaknesses of the original proposal."
    "Despicable is a pretty aggressive word to use in describing a group of people who, whether you agree with them or not, are working tirelessly to try and help make Windsor the best city possible for residents. It's also quite petty and childish language for a mayor to use against citizens so passionate about our city."
    "We need a mayor to fight for Windsor."
    "City Council and the Mayor are not making this decision because it's in the best interest of Windsor (especially West end) residents. Their recent sniping and unprofessional behaviour convinces me that they do not have my health in mind."
    "Mayor Drew Dilkens you call it delay. Camp [sic] calls it getting it right - to not ignore but rather to serve the very people who built Windsor."
    "Budget 2020 needs a sum for mediation on the hospital plan.

    The public engagement process is not working."
    "I would like to see Budget 2020 include bringing in a mediator to help the various parties listen to each other as the public dialogue has become toxic and litigious.

    Further I would like to see bi-monthly  communication from The Hospital Planning Committee and City Hall as we successfully complete each of the 5 Stages of the Provincial Hospital Planning Process. In November the Province was still waiting for documents from the Windsor planning committee to complete the requirements for Stage 1."
    "Please take this to the Courts! We need justice! A small group of people are running this City and it’s their own interests and ability to capitalize on the sick and poor that motivates their decision making. Thank you for being a voice for all, including the most oppressed and marginalized groups in our City, and not just the wealthy and healthy."
    "I donated because CAMPP is defending the public interest."
    "I'm honestly embarrassed that our Mayor has resorted to online publicly shaming a group of people who are simply passionate about this decision."
    "This disagreement between CAMPP and the city/hospital is incomprehensible to me in so much as CAMPP's arguments make total sense, and the city's none at all. How does the bureaucracy get away with it? I wonder if there is a department at the UofW that can do some research and tell us how it is that this bizarre phenomenon has any legs?"
    "No matter what side of the debate you are on, there are mechanisms in place to have your voice heard, and to ensure important decisions like this are made with regard to all involved parties. CAMPP is legitimately fighting for what they believe is right. Hardly despicable in my opinion.

    As I see it, an elected official publicly chastising a group because they disagree with him/her is *much* closer to the definition of despicable."
    "I fully support CAMPP fighting for the elderly, disabled, low income, getting to this proposed site for them will be difficult and costly... Keep up the good fight for the most challeged."
    "Thank you CAMPP. I don't know how this will be decided but I support the discussion and your right to pursue all legal avenues to be heard."
    "Land Use Planning and Zoning are important tools to increase density and make cities more compact."
    "I do wish people would realize that CAMMP [sic] is not against a new hospital, just the location. Also, a surprising number of people do not realize that the two existing hospitals will be torn down. The public has been and continues to be very ill informed about this whole process that was basically done in backrooms.

    There is a person in our neighbourhood that has a sign on their lawn that says I am in favour of the Mega Hospital, well big deal so am I but just not the location in question. This person has ties to the Met so they are obviously a little prejudiced.

    Also if there is a climate emergency why are they going to pave over farmland?"
    "It would just be nice for Windsor to embrace a development paradigm that involves a denser urban core and less suburban sprawl... it's hard to get greenfield space back once it's gone, but many vacant parking lots remain parking lots forever"
    "Why, as we are supposedly trying to fight climate change, do we invite urban sprawl.

    Yes, the vulnerable in the city. Also, even the aging citizens for whom driving is less than a clear option, especially when it involves highways at 110 kilometres and hour or more. We really should have hospitals close to the urban transit hub."
    "The proposed location... will cost the Corporation of the City of Windsor tens or hundreds millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades that we have to directly fund while the the same Corporation howls about an infrastructure deficit."
    "The WFCU and CR42 are attempts to cornerstone suburban/ farmland development/ developers with 70's style satellite planning reminiscent of Detroit's Pontiac Silverdome & Palace of Auburn Hills, both now closed. Detroit reversed course and brought the institutions downtown... and look at the difference! Obviously the right choice."
    "Happy Holidays and don’t give up the fight for 2020!
    You have more support than you know!"

    Sunday, December 8, 2019

    Thank You, CAMPP Supporters

    About the December 3, 2019 LPAT decision
    CAMPP is naturally disappointed with the LPAT ruling delivered on December 3, 2019. 

    Our residents’ advocacy group strongly supports a new hospital for the region. Our appeal was about transparency in local public decision making. We brought attention to important issues that for years had been dismissed, or hidden from public view. We will continue to advocate for independent oversight on this monumental project that will affect the region for many generations to come.

    We thank the appeal’s 28 participants, and the thousands of residents who have supported this cause since the formation of our group in 2014. Thank you also for your many messages of solidarity. Please continue to send us your comments so we may share them with our readers.

    We sincerely encourage the Ministry of Health to continue to review all future plans for our local healthcare system.

    Read CAMPP's response to the LPAT decision here
    About CAMPP
    Citizens for an Accountable Mega-Hospital Planning Process (CAMPP) is a grassroots citizens group that formed in 2014 to ensure:
    • all voices are heard and counted in the planning of Windsor-Essex’s new hospital
    • decision-making be financially, socially and environmentally responsible
    • sound urban planning principles are followed
    Supporters include thousands of Windsor-Essex residents. They represent a broad range of backgrounds and all socio-economic levels.
    We categorize our concerns using the acronym ACUTEAccess to healthcare, Costs to the community, responsible Urban planning, Transparency of governance and Environmental impact.
    About the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)
    LPAT's roots go back more than a century. It is a successor to the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board, which was established in 1906, and later came to be known as the Ontario Municipal Board. The OMB was Ontario's first independent, quasi-judicial administrative tribunal.
    In their own words: Members of our community
    continue to comment on the issues
    "The planet is on fire and our civic leaders and decision makers feel its acceptable to build 1000 acres of automobile sprawl and a hospital relocation on the edge of the city. This plan isn't just bad, it's shamefully reckless."
    "The only thing that is keeping this city together is the hospital’s and Chrysler. It looks like he wants to dismantle Windsor. He is the worst mayor we ever had. Next municipal election I hope someone will run against the new shiny new building, by an airport of all places. We need accessibility to healthcare. My wheelchair will never make it. The poor, disabled will never make it there."
    "The vast majority of the population in this region would find a location off EC Row far more accessible. Any regional hospital needs highway access. This is a stupid location, plain and simple."
    "So many people with loved ones cannot afford to get to the only location available!"
    "Citizens advocacy continues to be a necessity in our area to ensure the right health services for ourselves and fellow citizens.

    Something i'm itching to clarify:
    1. Cuts are not Efficiency.
    2. Appropriate resources allocated each of the moving parts of a reasonably run hospital system are Efficiency.
    3. Some Efficiencies are Death Sentences to Real People - read this week's newsletter and comments, and weep."
    "I'm really curious to know what is the added cost for the (bus) route extensions to the proposed hospital site are. If we didn't need to make these connections... how much could be saved? (if the hospital were to be located in a more urban area)."
    "The (bus) routes to the proposed Hospital site look like an afterthought."
    "I asked the W.P.D. to provide three exemplary examples anywhere  in N. America  where a 'Mega Hospital' is parked  next to an international class airport as per the proposed plan. To date they have NOT come back with a single example . Why ??? Because there  isn't any such debacle on the entire continent  Plain STUPID! Who wants top watch and hear  an airshow while undergoing a bypass ??? One of many reasons why this location should be scrapped."
    "Our Mayor should be taking care of Windsor residents. NOT fighting for the county people at our expense!! They have their own elected officials."
    "I think it's in very bad faith when a municipal gov't ties it's tax base, the citizens, to a debt this big (gigantic!) with little to no census or debate. I guess that's the way they do it in Windsor."
    Look out for our next eblast in early 2020. Happy Holidays!