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(Updated 10:30 a.m., March 2)
Orléans health hub delayed another year

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Marilyn Wall poses for a picture with her husband Patrick after receiving a Global Community Alliance award for community service. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Orléans residents will have to wait at least one more year for the Ontario Liberal government to make good on their seven-year-old promise to build a health hub near the corner of Brian Coburn Blvd. and Mer Bleue Road.

Orléans residents will have to wait at least one more year for the Ontario Liberal government to make good on their seven-year-old promise to build a health hub near the corner of Brian Coburn Blvd. and Mer Bleue Road.

The project was first promised by former premier Dalton McGuinty amid great fanfare at in August, 2009.

The project gained momentum in 2010 when the Montfort Hospital purchased the 21.7 acre site from the Taggart Group for $4.3 million.

At the time, construction of the proposed $150 million mini-hospital was expected to begin in 2011 with a 2013 completion date.

Behind the scenes, the prov-incial government was having second thoughts about it’s $100 million share of the project and there were also questions about the Montfort’s ability to raise the remaining $50 million.

The impasse forced the various stakeholders to go back to the drawing board. The result of those efforts were unveiled during the provincial election campaign in August, 2011.

The health hub was a key plank in the re-election campaign of former Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely.

During a joint press conference held at the Shenkman Arts Centre, then Ontario Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli announced that the Liberals were prepared to commit $60 million for the “first phase” of the health hub.

“This is not merely another announcement or another promise,” Chiarelli proclaimed at the time. “The money has been approved by Treasury Board, it has been approved by Cabinet, and it is in the budget. As soon as you can get the ground broken, the money will be flowing."

That was four and a half years ago. As it turned out, Chiarelli statement wasn’t entirely accurate. The money had been committed, but it was never included in the budget, and hasn’t been included in the five budgets since, including last week’s provincial budget.

McNeely’s successor, Marie-France Lalonde, held a meeting in Blackburn Hamlet on Feb. 18 to bring residents up to speed on where the health hub currently stands.
After stating that she understands the community’s frustration, Lalonde explained that the project is in the second stage of a five-stage process.

The Ministry of Health and the Montfort Hospital have been exchanging correspondence to clarify the scope of the project. That process is expected to conclude in March, which will kick-start the third stage if project during which the Local Health Integration Network will establish the services to be offered by the health hub and the allocation of space.

In stage four, the architects and designers will start drawing plans for the actual building.

In a sign that the various stakeholders have learned from raising the public’s expectations only to see them fall victim to delay after delay, no one is willing to put an actual date on when the first shovel will break ground. Lalonde says she’s hopeful construction will begin in 2017, although she’s not making any promises either.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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