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Oshawa making push for new hospital

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Although a decision is likely years in the future, Oshawa is making its pitch for Durham Region’s newest hospital.

At the city’s development services committee’s latest meeting, councillors supported a staff report identifying North Oshawa as the best option for Lakeridge’s expansion.

The report, penned by commissioner of development services Warren Munro, states building a hospital in the city’s north end would be an optimal spot within Durham’s five lakeshore communities.

Munro also notes it would provide a “much needed facility” in an area expecting huge growth over the next 10 to 15 years.

“Locating a full service hospital in the northernly portion of Oshawa’s major urban area would assist in meeting current and future demands for hospital healthcare in Durham… and also address the expansive growth planned for north Oshawa, including in the Windfields, Kedron and Columbus communities,” Munro says in the report.

According to Munro, Oshawa’s bid is supported by the proximity to the Oshawa Executive Airport and Highway 407.

“Simcoe Street functions as the region’s primary north-south transit spine with the most frequent north-south service, and is identified in the region’s and Metrolinx’s regional transportation plans for future rapid transit service,” he says.

The city has identified three specific spots for the proposed hospital.

The first is the Northwood Business Park, which is located near the Oshawa-Whitby boundary, bounded by Taunton Road to the south, and Highway 407 to the north.

Another potential spot is the South Columbus Industrial Area, which is bounded by the 407 to the south, and a planned arterial road, which will separate industrial lands from a planned subdivision, to the north.

The campuses of Durham College and Ontario Tech University were also suggested as viable locations.

Lakeridge Health is in the midst of mapping out a new master plan, which includes plans for a new acute care hospital.

In an e-mailed statement, Lakeridge officials say the master plan uses data about demographics and the projected demand for health services to ensure the organization has the ability to meet the current and future health care needs of Durham

The timing and location of the new hospital will be based on “rigorous data analysis.”

It is planned for the proposed master plan to be submitted to the Ministry of Health in the coming months, the statement adds.

Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey says the report and the city’s pitch needs some improvement.

“Other municipalities [are] lined up trying to get the Minister of Finance’s ear trying to get a new hospital… [the city should] have it packaged and crystal clear, because you’ve got all kinds of people wanting the same thing. I think you have to make it a little stronger,” McConkey said.

Mayor Dan Carter concedes there will plenty of competition for the hospital.

“We are going to have built a case for support that is incredible,” he said. “Don’t get mistaken here, our friends to the west desperately want this too.”

However, to Carter the report is just the beginning of a long process.

“I think what we are trying to do is make sure that we position ourselves in the very best way to compete,” Carter said, noting he didn’t want to “[show] all [his] cards” to the competition this early.

The report will be in the hands of council later this month.

It has received endorsements from Durham College, Ontario Tech, Trent University, and the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.