Cockburn Rejects Plan to Place Hospital on Ottawa’s Experimental Farm

Juno award winner Bruce Cockburn speaks out against a plan to build a $2.8 billion hospital campus on a designated historic green space in Ottawa.

“It has come to my attention that a plan is in the works to establish a new hospital which will house a popular park, (which is part) of the Experimental Farm,” said the Canadian folk singer and officer of the Order of Canada in a YouTube video on January 7

“Apart from my own sentimental feelings about a place I loved to spend time as a child, the idea of ​​replacing precious green space with a hospital and the parking lots, which could be better placed elsewhere, is nonsensical,” he continued.

Located near Carleton University on Dow’s Lake, the Experimental Farm was designated a National Historic Site in 1886 and is a popular green space for Ottawa residents. The farm houses a research facility, gardens, and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.

In 2016, the Canadian Heritage Department requested that a portion of the Experimental Farm be made available for a new hospital campus to replace the 100-year-old Civic Hospital, located in the Hintonburg neighborhood west of downtown. The National Capital Commission had recommended Tunney’s Pasture, a large complex of federal buildings near downtown Ottawa, for the site of the new hospital campus, which will retain the Civic Hospital name.

In 2018, the Ottawa Hospital, which oversees three medical campuses in the city, including the Civic, signed a 99-year lease with the federal Liberal government for the former Sir John Carling Building, located on the Experimental Farm site. In 2021, the Ottawa City Council approved the master plan for the site.

A four-story parking lot is to be built sometime this year, while the 641-bed hospital is set to be built in 2024 and open in 2028.

On its website, the Ottawa Hospital says that for every tree removed for the project, five will be planted and as many mature trees as possible will be preserved.

“As the project moves through each stage of the (Ontario) Department of Health’s capital planning process, the hospital will continue to work with the community and government and welcome their feedback,” Rebecca Abelson, a media relations officer at the hospital, told iPolitic in a statement. email Thursday.

The Dow’s Lake site will be more easily accessible for patients and emergency services and will act as a regional trauma, neuroscience and acute care center for patients in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and Nunavut, she added.

A concept drawing shows the back of the new Civic Ottawa Hospital. (City of Ottawa)

The controversial project became a major topic in the driving of Ottawa Center during the September 2021 federal election. As part of his climate plan, Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi promised to enact a law to protect the farm “forever”, but he did not. not during the short House meeting from November 22 to December 17 last year.

Parliament will resume on January 31.

Naqvi told iPolitics on Thursday that he is investigating “the best way to ensure the protection of the farm”.

“I am pleased that the federal government has committed itself to (protect) heritage properties in the mandate letters (to the federal minister) released recently,” he said in an email.

“It is clear that our community needs a modern, 21st century hospital downtown. No downtown location is perfect, and we cannot afford to restart a review process that will lead to a decade of delays.”

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