On the third tee at Beach Grove Golf and Country Club, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (L—Windsor-Tecumseh) suggests to his playing partner David Musyj, president and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, that rather than spend billions fixing Windsor’s aging two hospitals, a campaign begin to replace them with a single-site, acute-care hospital. Duncan publicly announces the plan to the first convocation of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Windsor program.
Duncan appoints a tri-partisan task force to assess the community’s appetite for the new hospital, tapping Liberal MPP Teresa Piruzza (Windsor West), former provincial NDP health minister Dave Cooke and Tom Porter, a lawyer, former Tory candidate and former city councillor. In December, the panel concludes there is strong support for the hospital and recommends Queen’s Park move forward.
The Ontario government commits to providing $37.5 million to cover the first two phases of the mega-hospital plan, to address governance, programming and design. It’s anticipated the hospital will take 10 to 12 years to complete at an estimated cost of up to $1.6 billion.
Duncan announces his retirement from Ontario politics. Windsor Regional Hospital and the city’s faith-based hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, announced a reorganization that will see Windsor Regional operate the proposed new hospital. In October, Windsor Regional takes over trauma and acute-care services at the Ouellette site formerly known as Hotel-Dieu. Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare takes over the Tayfour campus of Windsor Regional (formerly I.O.D.E) on Prince Road for mental health, addiction and rehabilitation.
The hospital project moves to Stage 1B of the provincial approval process, including site selection, architectural plans, an implementation schedule, how services will be integrated at the new hospital, how existing facilities will be used and funding/ financing plans.
Following a 15-month study that included public consultation and a fairness advisor, a 10-member site selection committee recommends building the 10-storey, 500-bed hospital on a farm field at County Road 42 and Concession 9 near Windsor Airport. The plan also calls for redevelopment at Windsor Regional’s Ouellette and Met campuses, a four-storey, stand-alone emergency department on the former Grace Hospital site and expansion at the non-acute care Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare on Prince Road. The cost is estimated at nearly $2 billion. The recommended location comes under fire from a new watchdog group, Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process (CAMPP), which says the airport site will reduce access to healthcare for Windsorites and contribute to urban sprawl.
Windsor and Essex County councils approve their share of a $200-million local levy to help pay for the hospital and acknowledge that they will help shoulder an additional $200 million to $300 million in road and infrastructure work to improve access to the site.
Organized by former Windsor mayor and current WFCU Credit Union president Eddie Francis and his wife Michelle Prince, the Starry Night gala raises $1 million for the hospital campaign, unofficially kicking off community fundraising.
Infrastructure Ontario lists the hospital among six new health care projects to move forward by 2021. It lists the project as a “Design-BuildFinance-Maintain” model, which means the responsibilities for designing, building, financing and maintaining the project will be transferred to private sector partners. Requests for construction quotes would be issued in 2021. The following month, Health Minister Eric Hoskins visits the area to reaffirm the hospital is moving forward.
Doug Ford’s Conservative Party sweeps to power in the Ontario election.
City council approves rezoning for the hospital site following a marathon nine-hour meeting in which community activists step up their campaign to overturn the site selection.
Following a case management conference, the province’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) orders an appeal of the County Road 42 location to proceed to a full hearing in October.
Following months of inactivity when the operations of fundraising consultant KCI are suspended, Mayor Drew Dilkens announces plans to meet Premier Doug Ford in an effort to revive the stalled hospital project.
Windsor-Essex once again appears on the Infrastructure Ontario market update, only this time the list has swelled to 16 hospital projects and Windsor is ranked tied for last based on anticipated date of financial approval.
Following a three-day hearing, an LPAT adjudicator withholds judgement. A CAMPP lawyer predicts it could take up to three months to rule on the appeal of the proposed hospital site.