Ottawa Hospital unveils plan for new Civic campus

Consultations raised questions about access, parking and greenspace

Jason-Emery Groen, a consultant with HDR, presenting the first conceptual design for the new Civic hospital campus.

The Ottawa Civic Hospital unveiled the architectural plans for its new campus on the northeast corner of the Central Experimental Farm on Wednesday night.

Jason-Emery Groen, from architecture firm HDR, ran through the proposal which includes three main buildings mostly oriented toward Carling Avenue.

The buildings with the highest turnover, teaching and outpatient clinics, are oriented towards the northeast corner of the land near the Carling Avenue and Preston Street intersection, as well as the O-Train’s Trillium Line.

The proposed architectural design for the new Ottawa Hospital campus along Carling Avenue, near Dow’s Lake. (The Ottawa Hospital)

The acute care facility would be built toward the southwest portion of the land and back onto an underground parkade that would have a green roof.

Groen said the proposal is meant to respect sightlines and the context of development in the surrounding community.

The plans follow a two-month community consultation that highlighted accessibility, parking and greenspace as major concerns in the development of the new hospital campus.

Access, parking concerns

Those concerns were echoed by some of the more than 200 people who came to the meeting at Lansdowne Park’s Horticultural Building.

Urusula Mount, who lives near the proposed campus, said she still prefers the original location proposed for the new Civic, but appreciated it appeared the hospital was listening to the community.

“I think they have incorporated the environment, the natural habitat because I know there are pathways through there. So from that point of view I think they have listened,” she said, though she still has some reservations.

“You wonder how the access is going to be possible with parking and everything.”

Michel Gauthier, executive director of the Canadian Tulip Festival, said he was excited by the proposal but worried about the elimination of a parking lot near Dow’s Lake, which could affect his festival and Winterlude.

“Now you’re removing the parking lots which are accessible and adjacent. Yes, you’re putting in spots but they’re at the other end of the world,” he said.

“We’re going to have to sit down and find a new way of doing this.”

River Coun. Riley Brockington said he liked what he saw in the plan and that the question of location isn’t going to be reopened.

He said he’s also watching access and parking issues.

“Parking absolutely has to be adequate. I do like the fact that it will be underground and buried,” Brockington said.

“We need to maximize the use of [public transit for] employees, visitors and patients who are maybe not urgent patients coming to the hospital.”

Make a new O-Train stop: Naqvi

Yasir Naqvi, Ontario Attorney General and Ottawa Centre MPP, said he has proposed a dedicated O-Train station for the new hospital on the Trillium line, just south of the existing Carling stop.

“I think in order to really encourage people, especially the staff who will work at this new site, to take public transit like the Trillium line, it probably would be better to have a station right inside the building,” he said.

Naqvi did not say whether the province would pay for the new stop, but added he didn’t think it would be too significant of a cost in the context of the multibillion-dollar hospital project.

Cameron Love, the hospital’s executive vice-president and chief operations officer, said they haven’t pinned down the number of parking stalls.

“We have to try and really create flexibility around it,” Love said.

“Fifty years from now: are there going to be as many cars? Are they self-driving cars?”

Some programs moving

The hospital also said it will be reorganizing some of its programs to take advantage of the new space and make it easier for patients to get their care in one place.

The acute mental health, nephrology and rehabilitation programs would move to the new Civic campus, according to Love.

Aerial view of the proposed new location of the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus, the former site of the Sir John Carling Building. (National Capital Commission)

Love said the cost of the proposal, which has been estimated as $2 billion in the past, will be determined by what kind of facilities the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care decides need to be built in the region.

The hospital said it is still accepting public feedback and is working to have a more complete proposal in three years.

The new hospital is slated to open in 2026.

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