Lakeridge Whitby hospital: Pickering asks for bids review

The Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees has received and accepted a recommendation from the expert panel that a site in Whitby should be protected for a proposed future hospital in Durham Region.

However, contender Pickering is not giving up the fight saying it is up to the provincial government to give the final greenlight, and is asking for both bids to be made publicly available for review.

The preferred site is located on 50 acres of land south of Highway 407, west of Highway 412, east of Lake Ridge Road and north of Highway 7/Winchester Road. The location is easily accessible due to its proximity to major existing highways and roadways, as well as planned public transit. Its location in central Durham Region will help to serve residents across the region.

The site selection process is a key part of Lakeridge Health’s Master Plan, which identifies capital investments needed to meet projected demand in Durham Region over the next 25 years, including a proposed new hospital.

With this endorsement from the board, Lakeridge Health will begin discussions with the Town of Whitby on the next steps in the process, as well as further consultations with community stakeholders as required.

Simultaneously, Lakeridge Health will commence discussions with the Ministry of Health for a new hospital on the basis set out in its master plan and advance the next steps in the ministry’s multi-stage approval processes.

The recommendation was provided to the board following a phased process that included a comprehensive public consultation on the criteria used to score site proposals, a public Call for Proposals to interested landowners, and a rigorous evaluation and scoring process, said a Lakeridge statement.

“A proposed future hospital in Durham Region will serve all the communities in Durham,” said Sharon Cochran, Chair, Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees. “We are pleased to accept the expert panel’s recommendation regarding the Whitby site – this is an important step in advancing the development of a new hospital as envisioned in our master planning process.”

Whitby Excited

Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell said: “Today is an exciting day for residents from across the entire Durham Region. I want to thank the site selection independent expert panel and Lakeridge Health for their due diligence, transparency and efforts throughout this process. The integrity of this process was overseen by a fairness advisor and the site recommendation made to the Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees by the independent expert panel with no prior connection to Durham Region. This robust process ensured fairness in determining the best site on behalf of all Durham residents. I would also like to recognize the members of Whitby Council for their ongoing support through this process and for this site.

“Our Hospital Task Force has been working diligently over the past two years to ensure the best site was selected to serve residents from across Durham Region. We applaud Lakeridge Health’s selection of this central location which offers unparalleled connectivity from any direction, so when seconds and minutes count, those who need critical care can get it fast. Emergency responders will be able to cover greater distances and reach hospital services in less time – absolutely crucial for what will be the only trauma centre between Toronto and Kingston. This site also helps to ensure a complete and connected healthcare system for Lakeridge Health to deliver service to residents as our Region continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario,” said the Whitby mayor.

Pickering Disappointed

“However, we were informed… that Lakeridge Health made the disappointing decision to pass on Pickering as the site of its new hospital.  Pickering will have the largest population in Durham Region and is the only city in the region to not have a major healthcare facility,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.

Despite a short RFP process, the City of Pickering was able to assemble a world-class team of healthcare and environmental experts and we are immensely proud of the vision we put forward for our proposed site adjacent to the Seaton development (near Salem Road and Highway 407) that will see 70,000 new residents, he said.

“Throughout the process, the City of Pickering was committed to delivering a world-renowned facility known for its embrace of the local environment and sustainable building practices. Additionally, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority confirmed in a letter to Lakeridge Health that Pickering’s proposed hospital site was outside of the potential enhanced natural heritage system illustrated in the Carruthers Creek Watershed Plan.

“The city also found a development partner that was willing to donate the land, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. In contrast, the Whitby site is on lands owned by the Province of Ontario.  If the Province was to donate 50 acres to Lakeridge Health, it would be losing approximately $40 million in revenues that could be realized on the open market,” Mayor Ryan pointed out.

“While I can’t comment on how the independent selection panel came to its decision, it is ultimately the Province of Ontario that must greenlight and fund the project. Asking Ontario taxpayers to absorb a $40m loss may be okay with the panel and hospital administrators, but it should be a significant concern to the provincial government as we continue to struggle with the ongoing economic impacts of the pandemic. We ask Lakeridge Health to make both bids publicly available for review,” he added.

Decision about people: Region

John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer for The Regional Municipality of Durham, said it is important to remember that, as a region, this decision is really about our people. It’s about working together to bring a much-needed hospital to our community.

“It’s about considering how the decision of today might impact the community of tomorrow. As one of the fastest growing communities in Ontario, the development of a new hospital will impact our health, social and economic well-being; providing access to additional high-quality care, programs and services that will save lives. Jobs that will embrace the innovative spirit that Durham Region is known for,” said Henry.

“This hospital will help to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. It will allow residents, from across Durham Region, to access excellent health care and health-related services close to home. This site selection announcement is an important step forward. Now we must all work together to bring this much-needed hospital to Durham Region. Durham Region is recognized as one of the best places in Ontario to live, work and raise a family. This announcement highlights our focus on maintaining this, for years to come,” he added.

RELATED STORIES

Pickering joins bid to host new Lakeridge hospital

Oshawa throws hat in ring for new Lakeridge hospital

Mayor says Whitby best site for Lakeridge hospital

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