Ottawa Hospital rejects Tunney’s Pasture for new Civic site

The Ottawa Hospital says its board has unanimously rejected a recommendation to construct a new Civic campus at Tunney’s Pasture.

The statement from the Ottawa Hospital comes several days after the National Capital Commission said the federal government office complex was the best location for a new facility.

Parts of the current hospital are nearly a century old and in need of replacement. However, the Ottawa Hospital said it was not convinced it could construct a new facility at Tunney’s Pasture within a decade.

“Time is of the essence, given the aging facility and its impact on the hospital’s ability to deliver 21st-century health care,” said hospital board chairperson James McCracken in a statement.

Other concerns raised by the hospital include the ability of patients and their families to access Tunney’s Pasture by car. Its main access road from Highway 417, Parkdale Avenue, often comes to a standstill during peak hours. Tunney’s Pasture is also hemmed in on the north by the Ottawa River.

However, proponents of the site note that it sits on Ottawa’s under-construction light-rail line.

The Ottawa Hospital board also raised concerns about the cost of demolishing existing buildings on the site.

“We cannot impose this financial burden on our fundraising community … or ask taxpayers to step into their place,” Mr. McCracken said. “We do not serve our patients’ best interests by choosing an option that inflates the cost of a new hospital at a time when health-care dollars are so scarce.”

Two studies by the Ottawa Hospital over the past nine years have concluded that the best location for a new Civic campus is on the Central Experimental Farm, across Carling Avenue from the current location.

However, many Ottawa residents are opposed to developing any portion of the farm.

Last week, the NCC determined that the Tunney’s Pasture site best matched the needs for hospital layout, accessibility, and proximity to the urban core, among other criteria, out of 12 proposed sites.

The NCC defended its process in a statement on Twitter.

“The National Capital Commission conducted an open and transparent review to determine the best federal site for the new Civic Campus of The Ottawa Hospital,” the agency said.

In a separate statement, Ottawa’s five Liberal MPPs said they “fully support the Ottawa Hospital board" as it responds to the NCC’s recommendation for a new location of the Civic campus.