Sunday, March 15, 2020

🏨 How to Build a Healthy Community for Everyone

Gil Penalosa, named by Planetizen in 2017 as "One of the World's 100 Most Influential Urbanists," was in Windsor this past week. Mr. Penalosa is an excellent public speaker who advises decision makers and municipalities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone.

While he was in town, he made a guest appearance on the weekly Rose City Politics podcast.

"Where we set up the schools, the hospitals, the libraries, everything has to be about be about city building ... especially everything that is public should be placed on the ideal location in order to have quality of life for everyone."
On the March 11, 2020 show, he shared his thoughts about the proposed location of our new hospital -- and he didn't mince his words! 
To listen to the very informative discussion on a variety of topical local issues -- ranging from school amalgamation, to road safety, to the broader impacts of the location of the new hospital -- click the Rose City Politics icon above. We thought the sections from 19-21 and 38-44 minute marks were especially relevant.
About Gil Penalosa
Gil is the founder and chair of the Toronto-based non-profit 8 80 Cities. He is also the president of Gil Penalosa & Associates. He holds an MBA from UCLA's Anderson School of Management, where he was selected as one of the "100 Most Inspirational Alumni" in the school's history. Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the University of Sweden, SLU in 2015.
On preventing disease through community design 

--  Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2017Designing Healthy LivingCanada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam

"Improving public health and preventing disease through changes to our environment is a well-founded concept. For example, infectious disease rates in the last century were reduced not just through scientific innovation and vaccination, but also through infrastructure planning by improving sanitation and addressing overcrowding in residential neighbourhoods.
This report answers many questions but also raises several others. We need better information if we are to measure the health impacts of community design to incorporate evidence-based strategies into community planning. This report will raise awareness among Canadians about the unique aspects of their communities that they could take advantage of to improve their health. It will also encourage more dialogue across the many disciplines involved in community planning and health promotion so that neighbourhood design considers and promotes physical activity, healthy diets and mental wellness."
What is urban sprawl? 

"Urban sprawl refers to urban areas expanding beyond their core, often into rural areas to form suburbs.

This frequently results in different land use design than in urban centres, a lack of diversity in land use across suburbs and the need for more roads and infrastructure."

--  Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2017Designing Healthy LivingCanada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam
Help us reach our $100,000 fundraising target

Thank you to the hundreds of individual donors who have helped raise $87,500 to pay our legal bills since February 2, 2019! Those of you who don't have much money to spare still contributed what you could - every dollar makes an important difference. We're also grateful to the thousands of residents who continue to donate their time and resources to CAMPP. You're all so critical to fighting the City of Windsor and Windsor Regional Hospital's misguided plans for our future.

But the fight's not over yet. We still need your support: On December 18, 2019, we announced our intention to appeal the LPAT ruling. 100% of donations go directly to paying our legal bills. Every contribution counts, no matter how small or large. If you believe in responsibly planned and maintained communities, please help us reach our $100,000 fundraising target:
Click here to donate to our GoFundMe
In their own words: Members of our community
continue to comment on the issues
"It reminds me of the saying When you find a turtle on a fence post, it didn't get there by itself."
"Opposing bad/greed based/environmentally destructive/exploitive ideas is a primary responsibility of all citizens."
"I want healthcare to have 10 times more than education. I want healthcare to have every penny. I just want them spent in the BEST POSSIBLE WAY. With the best plan. The most well thought out, environmentally and socially just, plan. I want my hard earned money to be spent transparently and I want the best experts consulted and the voices of the tax payers heard. I want a good investment.

And there are just too many problems in this current plan to risk wasting billions of OUR money."
"I believe this mega-hospital will also have an impact on climate change at the current location. The hospital won’t be accessible and forcing people to drive in their cars adding to vehicle pollution."
"The people making those decisions appear to be self serving …to say the least. "
"O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!"
"Has anyone apprised our local media of this analysis? They would probably be too chicken to touch it, but they should be made aware anyway."
"they look after one another and you see them move to Board positions and jobs at university , at the hospital . enwin etc ---- it is very predictable."
"Lives literally depend on the execution of this plan. We deserve the BEST. The evidence is there that show that we don't currently have that yet."
Thank you for your 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Someone, please follow the money....

A Tight Network of Local Power Brokers Persists in Dominating the Planning and Location of the New Hospital
Click on the image to see an annotated version
that shows the people connected to these organizations
CAMPP's research unearthed an incestuous web of influence hiding in plain sight: A small handful of people controls a network of extremely prominent regional industry and community organizations. Exploiting their position, these insiders have sustained an illusion of local support for the deeply flawed plan for a single site regional acute care hospital, undermining a vital public process.
On its website, Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) promotes 8 letters of support for the new hospital location on County Road 42, written by 11 organizations not obviously connected to WRH or to local elected or other officials. However, WRH is not revealing the whole story.
The organizations endorsing the rural hospital location are listed numerically below in alphabetical order. In all but one instance (#8), the internal governance of these organizations demonstrates a direct and interconnected relationship to WRH, the City of Windsor and Windsor Family Credit Union (WFCU) (shown below in boldface):
1. Alzheimer Society of Windsor Essex: Dave Cooke, co-Chair of the WRH steering committee for the new hospital, is an honorary director of the Alzheimer Society. Mr. Cooke, a former NDP Cabinet Minister, served as the Board Chair of the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), resigning shortly before his committee appointment in 2012.

Long-time CEO Sally Bennett Olczak was the City of Windsor's Seniors Advisory Committee Chair through December 2018.

The list of directors on the Alzheimer Society's Board includes two directors of WRH's Board:
  • Gay Wrye was a member of the WRH Board from 2005-2016 and served as Chair from 2012-2014. She was also on the steering committee for the new hospital
  • Arvind Arya is a current member of WRH's Board
Alzheimer Society board member Bill Marcotte is a manager at WRH.
Click on the image tto see a larger version
2. Essex County Chinese Canadian AssociationStephen Tsui, P.Eng, President of the Essex County Chinese Canadian Association, signed a letter of support for the new hospital plan. Mr. Tsui is a senior consultant with Stantec Consulting.
  • Stantec has been directly involved in the planning of the new hospital for WRH and is a significant and regular consultant to the City of Windsor
  • Stantec's consulting work includes other projects directly related to the development of Sandwich South: the Upper Little River Watershed Master Drainage Plan and Stormwater Management Plan, and the Environmental Assessment Study for the expansion of Lauzon Parkway
Gary Ing, WRH's former Chief of Staff and ex-officio Board member, served three terms as President of the Essex County Chinese Canadian Association.
3. Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County (MCC): Current MCC President is Allison Johnson, Manager of Communications at WRH.

Aruna Koushik, who was Vice President of MCC when its letter of support was written, is also a WRH employee.

Fred FrancisCity of Windsor Councillor for Ward 1, is Director of Programs and Development at MCC. His older brother Eddie Francis is the City of Windsor's previous Mayor and now heads WFCU. Eddie Francis was a key organizer of a $1M fundraising effort for the new hospital.
4. Retired Teachers of Ontario, District 7, Windsor-Essex: The undated letter of support by the Retired Teachers of Ontario is especially puzzling.

It replicates much of the language from a letter by Chaiman James Sparrow that was published in the Windsor Star on November 16, 2016. When CAMPP wrote to Mr. Sparrow to query his suggestion that 2,330 retired teachers and support personnel endorsed the controversial hospital project, his reply was surprisingly testy.

We have no idea to whom he was referring with his statement: "...your two other members who emailed at the same time" or what these people may have written.

Most remarkably, the bottom of this email included WRH CEO David Musyj's electronic footer, yet CAMPP didn't copy Mr.Musyj on this email to Mr. Sparrow. So one may assume Mr. Sparrow forwarded our email to Mr. Musyj who provided him with assistance in drafting a response.  One may conclude that Mr. Sparrow simply failed to remove this rather obvious WRH electronic footprint when sending his response to CAMPP.
Click the image above to see CAMPP's email and a larger version of Mr. Sparrow's reply.
5. The United Church Downtown Mission of Windsor (The Mission): Dan Wilson, Chairman of WRH's Board has been The Mission's Board Chair since 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile. (Mr. Wilson very recently resigned from the Mission's Board in February 2020 over the collapse of The Mission's purchase of the Windsor Public Library's Central Branch).

Steve ErwinWRH's Manager of Corporate Communications, is a member of The Mission's Board of Directors.
6.  Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC): Current City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, and Tom Bain, Warden of the County of Essex, have served on the WEEDC Board for many years.

Marty Komsa, former WFCU President and CEO, was WEEDC's Chair in both 2015 and 2016. WFCU's ties to WRH are complex and deep:
  • Its CEO Eddie Francis -- City of Windsor Mayor (2003- 2014) and brother of Ward 1 Councillor Fred Francis -- was named President of WFCU in 2016
  • Patti France, St. Clair College’s President, serves on the Boards of both WFCU and WRH
  • WRH's former Chief of Staff and ex-officio Board member Dr. Gary Ing serves on the Board at WFCU
7.  Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce: Jason Ilijanic is the Chamber of Commerce Chair. He is also Director of Commercial Services at WFCU.

Marty Komsa, former WFCU President and CEO, is a past Chair of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
8.  Windsor Construction Association, Heavy Construction Association of Windsor: The Boards of Directors and memberships of these two industry groups are a Who's Who of local developers and construction companies. There's absolutely nothing surprising about their desire to see shovels in the ground as soon as possible.

Permission to start building would be a quick win and short term economic gain for these two organizations and their membership, regardless of the long-term consequences to the community.
Misrepresentations of support, suppression of opposition
The long-serving Chair of the Windsor Essex chapter of the Board of CARP (formerly Canadian Association of Retired Persons), Larry Duffield, is also the former Chair of the Seniors Advisory Committee (SAC). SAC is a committee of the City of Windsor.

WRH promotes CARP and SAC in the list of endorsements on its website. But the hotlinks don't connect to letters of support. Instead, they link to presentations from the contentious April 25, 2016 City of Windsor Council meeting. This was the meeting when the levy to pay the 10% local share of the new hospital's construction cost was approved.

WRH makes no mention of the community's widespread and continued opposition to the location of the new hospital. Yet, at that same April 25, 2016 Council meeting, 27 members of the public pleaded with Council not to support the proposed location.

By burying the evidence, WRH continues to project an inaccurate image of unified support for the deeply unpopular rural site of the new hospital.

Read transcripts of the community's oral and additional written submissions at this link.
So, who hasn't endorsed the plan?  
It's striking, that in the five years since the new hospital plan was announced, nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers have not put their signatures to any letters endorsing the hospital plan. The only signatories were the hospital department heads (the Medical Advisory Committee), all of whom are on WRH's payroll.

If it's such a good plan, why haven't we seen unsolicited public support from the hospital's 4,000+ health care workers? WRH has had since 2015 to demonstrate consistent and overwhelming staff approval. Yet, it hasn't happened.

BTW: If in response to this question, WRH suddenly "produces" approval, beware: It is also very likely not what it seems.

Like WRH's recent underwriting of a pro-County Road 42 "advertorial" edition of The Drive magazine masquerading as a “special report.” Or the so-called "grassroots group" that arrived fully funded right before the LPAT appeal last fall. “42 Forward” emerged out of nowhere with a logo, branded t-shirts, signs and a "rally" promoted by WRH. The "rally" was held inside a suburban Windsor funeral home's event space, and featured "light desserts, munchies and refreshments with entertainment by The Wellness Band from The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County," as well as plenty of free parking. Starring WRH's Chief of Staff, this "rally" was videotaped for later distribution on local Cable TV. Despite the freebees and lock step support of local media, the event attracted fewer than the room's capacity of 300 - a picture is worth a thousand words.

FYI: Physicians with privileges at WRH wishing to express negative concerns remain contractually muzzled. So it shouldn't be surprising that physicians who are against the plan have been publicly silent  --  for years.

Yet we've privately heard from numerous health care workers and their families who are against the County Road 42 site. But they were so afraid to be publicly associated with our campaign that they've donated money to our legal appeal anonymously. Several physicians have told us they were contacted by hospital administration who instructed them to "let the process play out."  We've also heard from nurses who were advised to keep their views to themselves.

What about other local non-profit organizations?
Many community organizations haven't endorsed the plan. Among them:
  • Business Improvement Associations
  • Street Help, Windsor Youth Centre (WYC) and Hiatus House
  • Windsor Regional Society of Architects (WRSA) and Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)

Illustrating community support for the rural hospital location appears to have been a highly strategic political exercise. Each letter of support by a community organization can be traced back to officials at Windsor Regional Hospital, the City of Windsor, Windsor Family Credit Union. It's remarkable that there are no letters of support from independent unaffiliated organizations other than industry groups that stand to financially benefit from the development. Will someone please follow the money?

If you are troubled by this web of insider influence, let your elected representatives, your friends and family know.  Contact information is on our website at this link.
In their own words: Members of our community
continue to comment on the issues
"Windsor and Essex county communities still building like it’s 1980. And they don’t seem to see the disconnect between the climate emergencies their trying to address, and the paving over of their communities."
"How much has been spent promoting and defending the indefensible, and how much staff time has been spent lobbying the government to go along with their plan?"
"Thank you CAMPP for your tenacity, your clear, knowledge-based communication and your important perspectives that extend well beyond the issue of the hospital, and that helps to connect the dots between health and health care, policy, governance, economics and values. In times of crisis, such as we are in the age of climate emergency, the importance of providing access to a deep and broad analysis of municipal politics cannot be underestimated!"
"We are adding to the sprawl by building a mega hospital in 42."
"Our municipal leaders must decide which is more important. Living conditions or their legacy projects."
"'a majority of people I've spoken too feel building a new hospital on the outskirts of the city in am unserviced bean field feel it's a poor idea that lacked proper community consultation."

Sunday, February 16, 2020

🚍 Are Windsor decision makers gambling with public transit?

On January 20, 2020, Windsor City Council Approved Its New Transit Master Plan: But some critical questions remain unanswered ... 
This week we're highlighting some troubling points about the new transit plan you likely didn't see reported on, nor questioned by local media.
1. Why does the Transit Master Plan state there's no need for bus routes to County Road 42 if no hospital is built? 

Since the July 15, 2015 rural hospital site announcement, the public were repeatedly told the development of the Sandwich South lands is necessary to accommodate the city's future anticipated population and job growth. 
"Note that there are multiple routes that are proposed to run to the new hospital site in southeast Windsor. These routes are contingent on the construction of the new hospital and would not be implemented to extend to this area if the hospital does not get built."

-- More Than Transit, page 39
Yet according to the City's own research, Windsor's population growth expectations are very modest, at best.  The City acknowledges this trend may be the result of an "aging demographic."

The Transit Master Plan's population growth projections have changed very little since 2018, when the Sandwich South Secondary Plan and hospital zoning were approved by Windsor City Council:
August 2018: Population growth projections presented to Windsor City Council:
January 2020: Transit Master Plan:

The development of Sandwich South epitomizes what's wrong with urban sprawl, especially when population growth is sluggish: low-density development is not conducive to cost-efficient public transit.
According to Transit Windsor, the residential area surrounding the proposed new hospital site is one of three planned new Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) areas.
The planned development area will be:
  • low-density, which is anticipated to result in low ridership demand; and/or
  • located on the fringe of the urban area.
       -- More Than Transit, page 49
What this means: County Road 42 will only need public transit service IF the hospital is built there.

If the hospital is not built on County Road 42, Transit Windsor anticipates the area will be so sparsely populated that it doesn't warrant regular bus service. And the anticipated ridership from the area beyond County Road 42 is already expected to be too low for fixed public transit routes.
What is Alternative Service Delivery?
ASD is a new service delivery model to Windsor. Residents will be provided with "on-demand" instead of regular public transit service:
  • ASD service can be provided through a variety of methods. Sedans, minivans, and shuttle buses are usually vehicles that come to mind but even full-sized buses can be used to provide ASD service.
  • ASD vehicles can provide door-to-door service or have predetermined stops where users have to walk to be picked up and/or a limited number of pre-determined destinations – or do a combination of both.
         -- More Than Transit, page 49
Is transit ridership expected to be low because of the low density of the new development? Or will driving simply be more convenient (or absolutely necessary), given the distance of Sandwich South from the rest of Windsor?

If population growth is weak and the location so remote, one wonders why there is such an urgency to embark on Windsor's 1,000 acre (400 hectare) urban expansion.
2. If international students (a transient population) are propelling Windsor's population growth, how does this justify infrastructure and development costs to local taxpayers for City expansion into Sandwich South (currently farmland)?

The Transit Master Plan notes (on page 14) that the number of student fare trips exceeds the number of adult fare trips. This is partly because of a recent influx of international post-secondary students who do not have cars.
If it weren't for the international students, can Windsor justify its stated need to develop farmland to create additional permanent housing?

Creating additional housing options (e.g. through secondary units in existing neighbourhoods close to St. Clair College and the University of Windsor) would be efficient and cost-effective to accommodate the ebb and flow of the international student population. And it would lead to more active transportation too: walking, cycling and public transit use. 
3. What will be the day-to-day time management consequences for Transit Windsor riders of this route expansion to a sparsely populated, future exurb?

An infographic in More Than Transit shows the system-wide goal for its minimum hours of service:

It doesn't indicate trip travel times.

There's no information about transit service to and from the future hospital location during the overnight hours.
The bus service hours cited in the new Transit Master Plan will not be helpful to patients seeking emergency room care after midnight.
4. How much will efficient and effective public transit service to County Road 42 cost? Will Windsor taxpayers appreciate underwriting this expansion - especially those who only use private vehicles for transportation?

The Transit Master Plan acknowledges that not all cost impacts are known. Yet the Plan candidly states that substantial funding commitments by federal, provincial, and local governments will be required to make it feasible.

Can anyone honestly say that transit service to a faraway hospital site surrounded by an extremely low density neighbourhood is a wise public investment, especially when other site options exist?
5.  Who wants to be in a vehicle on a highway without a seatbelt?

E.C. Row Expressway wasn't designed for regular use by public transit buses. We'd like to know what safety measures were considered when deciding to start routing buses on the expressway. What will happen to riders, especially those standing - an increasingly common sight on Transit Windsor buses - in the event of a collision at 100km/hour?
6. Do local officials ever use public transit?  

Is there anyone among all of the decision makers who anticipates using Transit Windsor to travel to the new single site acute care hospital? We suspect the answer is no. It's unlikely that thousands of Windsor public transit riders will be happy with the extra bus transfers, transit times and costs, when they need to access essential hospital-based healthcare services at CR42 --- if it becomes Windsor-Essex's only acute care hospital.

If these and other essential questions go unanswered, how can Windsor residents be confident that local decision makers are not just rolling the dice with public money - betting on a future that the City's own population and job growth data doesn't support? It's not too late to re-evaluate this plan.
In their own words: Members of our community
continue to comment on the issues
"I care about our community. The City has made too many poor decisions in the past. Let this new hospital location not be one of them. Once it's a done deal we can't unring that bell."
"Building a hospital and sub-dividing 900 acres of annexed productive farmland/greenspace goes against sound climate change planning. URBAN DENSITY PRESENTS A GREENER WAY TO LIVE, BUILD UP NOT OUT.

City mayors are directly accountable to their constituents for their decisions, and are more nimble than state and national elected officials to take decisive action. What our cities do individually and in unison to address climate change can set the agenda for communities and governments everywhere.

As a Farmer in Essex County it pains me to my core to watch farmland gobbled up throughout Essex/Windsor at an alarming rate because of unchecked urban sprawl when does it stop? At this critical crossroads in time, we need the ideas that cities and towns can create more than ever. We need our leaders to be innovated in their actions what we don't need is more of the same 1950's urban sprawl thinking. "
"Keep up the fight! Right to the end!! There are other suitable sites within the city core. This is an example of oppressive abuse of power and complete mismanagement. We appreciate your tenacity and advocacy more than you know!! It’s not a done deal. Don’t back down!!! Thank you for all you do on behalf of our community."
"Housekeeping is soooo big when it comes to infections yet housekeeping is always the first to go during cutbacks."
"The GM site would have been so much better."
"An urgent care clinic downtown is not nearly a replacement for a hospital with over 500 beds and staff of over 5000 with 100’s passing through it’s doors daily."
"A new low density residential neighbourhood beyond the city’s airport will ultimately become unsustainable sprawl further hollowing out Windsor’s core."
"People that understand that we must reduce carbon emissions that threaten earth's climate, who understand that we can no longer design cities around cars, that we can’t afford to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fix roads and people who don’t want to use swaths of valuable land for parking. These are all factors that go against building the proposed megahospital on the other side of the airport."