To McGuinty 14/03/04
Faircrest Heights Community Association
Crestview Ave, Ottawa, ON
K1H 5G7

14th March 2004

The Hon. Dalton McGuinty
1795 Kilborn Ave.
K1H 6N1

Dear Premier McGuinty,

This letter concerns the disposition of the National Defence Medical Centre (NDMC) lands. As a former long time resident and current MLA for Ottawa South, you will of course be aware that this 20 hectare (50 acre) site, owned by the Federal Government, is to be declared surplus to requirements and handed over to the Canada Lands Corporation (the Crown Corporation which handles land sales for the Federal Government), for subsequent sale to developers.

In 2003, the Ottawa City Council commissioned a Study entitled "Hospital Lands - Area Planning Study". In a May 14, 2003 letter from the city staff, the study was described as follows:

The ultimate goal of this Consultant-prepared Study will be the completion of a strategic plan, to guide future growth of the major healthcare campus bounded by Smyth Road and Alta Vista Drive, in coordination with an integrated transportation and transit network.

The study was instituted in an attempt to address the unprecedented development that has occurred on these lands over the past five years and which currently seems unlikely to abate. In discussions at a recent open house, both the consultants retained to conduct the study agreed that the future use of the NDMC lands will be a key determinant in the probable impact on the Hospital lands development for health care in the greater Ottawa area, and for the quality of life for adjacent communities over the next few years.

Current legislation requires that public institutions deemed to have a stake in federal land that is up for disposition, have an opportunity to acquire it. In this instance it seems abundantly clear that, as the population of this city continues to grow, the Ottawa Hospital will need the NDMC lands at some point, either for additional teaching and laboratory facilities, or for long term care and related facilities requiring close proximity to a hospital. For example, we hear time and again that one of the problems with the over-stretched healthcare system is that scarce hospital beds are being occupied by people who really need long term care, but have nowhere else to go.

We are concerned that if the Hospitals (CHEO and Ottawa), as separate entities, have to make a decision as to whether or not to declare an interest in the NDMC lands, they will have to decline because they cannot point to any long term plan as to how the land would be used, or, more to the point, to any funding commitment from your government. Accordingly we feel that your Minister of Health should be involved in some meaningful way in this process. He would bring the full authority of your government to the table, with a more comprehensive vision of how these lands could be used to further the objectives of the ministry in delivering quality health care to this region a region that is projected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

There is, and there will continue to be, heavy pressure from the big developers in the Ottawa area on governments at every level, to release land for office and residential development. We feel therefore that there is every reason to be concerned that there will be fierce opposition to the idea of the NDMC lands being held in abeyance for future use for healthcare related purposes.

An opportunity was lost when the Veterans lands in the same complex was sold off for development three years ago after the Hospitals had no option but to declare no interest in the site, because they did not have the wherewithal to make a credible case. Clearly there will be future demands for healthcare-related land adjacent to the existing Hospital facilities and we feel that it is imperative that the opportunity, presented by the availability of the NDMC site, not be overlooked.

Participation at some level by your government, as a stakeholder in the disposition of the crucially important NDMC lands, is surely nothing less than good public policy. By the same token we feel that the federal government should have the same concern and we are sending copies of this letter to John Manley the sitting MP for the area, the potential candidates who have declared in interest in replacing him in the next federal election, as well as other interested parties in the Ottawa scene.

Yours sincerely,

Faircrest Heights community association executive

cc Community Associations:
Alta Vista Drive Residents
Alta Vista

Mayor Chiarelli
Councillor Peter Hume
President, Ottawa Hospital
John Manley M.P. Ottawa South
Liberal Party Nominee, Ottawa South
Conservative Party Nominee, Ottawa South
New Democratic Party Nominee, Ottawa South