News / Ottawa

Experimental Farm advocates want hospital to put more consideration into Tunney's Pasture

The National Capital Commission’s decision last week to recommend Tunney’s Pasture as the site for the new Civic campus has been contested almost since it was announced.

Tunney's Pasture was the NCC's suggested spot for the new hospital.

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Tunney's Pasture was the NCC's suggested spot for the new hospital.

Residents who want to see the Central Experimental Farm protected say they’re not prepared to give up the debate because the Ottawa Hospital has rejected a site at Tunney’s Pasture.

The National Capital Commission’s decision last week to recommend Tunney’s Pasture as the site for the new Civic campus has been contested almost since it was announced.

The hospital board rejected the site Tuesday and the Ottawa Heart Institute added their voice on Thursday, saying they plan to stay at the current site for 20 to 25 years and would prefer a new hospital close by.

The Ottawa Hospital initially secured a commitment for a piece of land on the farm from the previous Conservative government, but the Liberals asked the NCC to look at other sites when they came to power.

Mayor Jim Watson and a group of MP's and MPPs were set to hold a press conference about the debate on Friday morning.

Leslie Maitland, with the Coalition to Protect the Central Experimental Farm, said she believes the hospital has been too quick to reject Tunney’s Pasture.

She points out Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly had not even received the NCC’s report before the hospital rejected the idea.

“It’s unfortunate the hospital chose to push back before the minister had even made the offer,” she said. “Why not sit down and talk and see where this might go?”

Maitland said the hospital has made their case in public for wanting the farm, but those who want to keep it preserved won’t back down either.

“I don’t think they’re going to cease advocating their position nor are we.”

Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre has launched a petition calling for the Liberals to go back to the original plan. He puts the blame for the current situation squarely with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who represents the area.

“The problem was solved. We had a location, a big open field right across the street,” he said. “It was done and then a year ago almost to the day she came in and slammed on the brakes.”

Some reports Thursday suggested the government was considering the Sir John Carling site, at the eastern end of the farm, as a compromise location.  

Poilievre said the hospital ranked that site lower than the spot across the street and moving there would be a purely political choice.

“I object to the idea that we should compromise our health care so Catherine McKenna can save face.”

Joly said she was prepared to work with people on the problem.

“I’ll be working with the city, with the province, with all stakeholders, and the most important thing is that we will be able to find a consensus.”

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