The historic Oshawa Clinic might be on the move – in four years at the end of its lease.
Local politicians have heard the clinic, which has been at its 117 King St. E. location since 1948, will be moving to Whitby after its lease expires in 2024.
Speaking with The Oshawa Express, Ward 5 City and Regional Councillor Brian Nicholson wants to know why every member of council hasn’t been informed about this, noting some seem to know more than others.
“The problem we’re having here is they won’t tell anybody anything,” he says, adding the previous council found out because a notice was released asking for bids on the building.
“It said very clearly that they’re going to move medical officers out of Oshawa to the new Whitby location,” says Nicholson. “I don’t know what the last council did because there doesn’t seem to be any reports, or any documentation that anybody can track.”
Because of this, Nicholson says he isn’t sure of what the previous council knew.
“If they were informed, there are four members of that council sitting on this current council, who have chosen not to tell the current council anything about it,” he continues.
After finding out about the move, Nicholson says he has been met with a “wall of silence” at the “political level.”
Nicholson put a motion forward at the most recent finance committee asking for a projection of any potential revenue impacts the clinic’s move could have on the city.
“This could cost a revenue stream of at least $500,000 in lost taxes to the city, and an equal amount at the region,” he says. “As a finance vice-chair, I think it’s important to do future planning.”
“I personally want to make sure that our staff and our city do everything that we can to retain this facility, or have it moved to a different location [in Oshawa],” he says. “We can’t afford to lose 75 doctors and five clinics.”
Nicholson says almost every specialist in Oshawa operates out of the Oshawa Clinic, and wonders if some patients may need to find new doctors after the move.
“If someone is suggesting that they’re going to move to the Whitby-Ajax border… how are our people going to get there? There are many senior citizens that don’t have access to vehicles,” says the veteran councillor.
However, Ward 4 City and Regional Councillor Rick Kerr is hoping to quell rumours. He notes while the clinic is moving, it will still have a presence in Oshawa.
“It’s an outdated building, and they were going to move anyway. Let’s be very clear about this, somebody connected some dots that ought not to have been connected,” he says.
Kerr says the clinic sold the building in 2014, and then signed a 10-year lease ending in 2024, meaning they’ll be in Oshawa for another four years.
He goes on to explain the clinic is looking to create a “more modern facility,” and he believes leadership there still intends to have a presence in Oshawa’s downtown core.
“Are some of the physicians moving to a Whitby location? Yes. Just like some physicians moved out to the Taunton Road location, and some physicians moved to the Courtice location,” explains Kerr.
Because it’s a real estate transaction, Kerr explains the city won’t be releasing the information on it’s website.
“It’s a private company, making a private company decision that city council has no say in,” he says. “However, if they come to council and ask for some assistance in relocation… then city hall will help, but it will be on a confidential basis until the transaction is complete.”
In order to facilitate the move, the current building was sold in 2014 to begin the process of looking for a new property. A lease was then signed to keep the clinic in Oshawa for another 10 years.
“They will be in the Oshawa Clinic until 2024, but in the meantime, they will be doing the process, as they should, of trying to find a location between now and then that can be constructed and have them move,” he says.
If the clinic is unable to move by 2024, Kerr says they could negotiate a lease extension.
“Being as they’re such a good client, I don’t know why the owner wouldn’t do that,” he says. “But that’s for them to figure out, it has nothing to do with city hall.”
Kerr believes there were some assumptions made, and says “unfortunately” they resulted in some residents getting “up in arms” about it.
Kerr isn’t the only member of city council trying to assuage the worries of residents, as Mayor Dan Carter tells The Oshawa Express that residents have no need to worry.
“We continue to be able to work with the Oshawa Clinic about finding a new location that is a moderate building that can be able to meet the needs of our community,” says Carter.
Carter also believes the clinic will continue to have a presence in Oshawa, and reinforces his commitment to working with them.
“I’m committed to being able to work with the organization and our team to be able to facilitate that,” he says.
To those who are worried, Carter wants them to know the city is working with the clinic to secure health services in Oshawa, and they have a strong relationship with the clinic.
Calls by the Oshawa Express to Oshawa Clinic CEO Jeff Warford went unanswered.
According to its website, the Oshawa Clinic originated from a partnership formed in 1927 by Dr. Grant Bird and Dr. Oscar G. Mills who had graduated together from the University of Toronto in 1921. In 1930 they were joined by Dr. W.S. Millman who specialized in Diagnostic Radiology and in 1934 by Dr. James R. Bayne who developed the specialty of Paediatrics. The Oshawa Clinic officially opened at the corner of King Street and Charles Street in Oshawa on December 1, 1948.