Tunney's Pasture as hospital site: first Kitchissippi view
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Today, the National Capital Commission announced that its preferred option for re-locating or re-building the Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital is Tunney’s Pasture. It will take some time to digest the NCC’s analysis, and to talk to residents about their reaction to this news.
As I seek Kitchissippi residents’ advice more widely, I can say that the selection will likely be hotly debated in the ward and around the city, and several considerations will rise to the fore in the days ahead. I do not envy the NCC its task in the face of multiple competing public interests.
While the site poses localized challenges, it's important to note that there are some considerable advantages to preserving a hospital in Ottawa’s core, saving the research fields at the Central Experimental Farm, and reducing reliance on cars by locating on mass transit.
We can anticipate that residents in already pressured neighbourhoods in Kitchissippi will have concerns about traffic and parking. Access from the Queensway to the north end of the ward is challenging, especially to and from the Parkdale ramps. In fact, the April 2016 site selection review and information report prepared by The Ottawa Hospital anticipates that “road work to and from Highway 417 would be required to support increased traffic.”
It bears contemplating that the Tunney’s Pasture Master plan that has wide community buy-in will likely need to undergo a transformation. The City has been developing a very attractive complete street plan for this stretch of Scott and I don’t know, yet, how this move would affect that.
The same site selection report mentioned above notes that of the four sites explored, Tunney’s has the highest costs associated with demolition and re-location of workers, with an assumption that the federal government would have to bear those costs.
I don’t believe that today’s announcement provides us with any final certainty. I will be pressing the Hospital and federal government for details of how the challenges we’re certain to identify will be mitigated. We’ll need to see how the higher costs for this site compared to others will be paid for. But, I’ll approach it with an open mind knowing how transformative LRT will ultimately be. Sensitively pursued, this could well be a world-class city-building initiative.
In the next few days, I’ll be consulting with our community associations and residents to understand the full spectrum of challenges and opportunities associated with the Tunney’s Pasture site. My commitment is to work with my federal and provincial counterparts to ensure that if The Ottawa Hospital finally moves to Tunney’s Pasture, that it is to the benefit our quality of life in Kitchissippi.