The Town has responded to a concern raised at last week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting by Coun. Gary Burroughs about the former Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital.
A resident has been trying for months to gain support for resurrecting the hospital, asking residents to reach out to council, and recently put letters in mailboxes around town.
The letter, titled Please bring back the NOTL Hospital, invites residents who wish to have a hospital in town to contact Lord Mayor Betty Disero and town councillors It is signed by Angela Bell on behalf of the Committee to Bring Back NOTL Hospital and concerned citizens of NOTL.
Burroughs had received a letter from the resident, and wanted council to respond, explaining there is a Town committee, of which he is a member, looking at the future of the building, but without provincial support, it won’t be a hospital.
While staff and council appreciate residents’ joint efforts in this regard, Monday’s media release from the Town says, “the letter has created quite a bit of confusion for residents. It is important to note that the Committee to Bring Back NOTL Hospital is not a committee of council, and staff were not aware of the contents of the circulating letter.”
The Town’s Hospital Site Steering Committee was established to provide recommendations to council regarding the process for determining the future use of the former hospital land on Wellington Street.
Burroughs, the chair of the steering committee, told councillors the committee members are asking staff to start the process for requests for expression of interests to the public, to be sent out no later than September.
Further public engagement, via the Town’s Join the Conversation site, is anticipated “to ensure stakeholders in the community, along with members of council, have their interests represented during the consultation process,” the Town’s media release says.
The public consultation held for three months from March 20 to June 20, 2018 resulted in some comments being gathered, but no action was taken. During that time, Join the Conversation, the Town’s website for gathering public comments, elicited 45 suggestions for the future of the hospital property, which included condos or apartments for seniors; a pub art gallery or museum; a multi-purpose complex with seniors housing, retail shops and educational programs; a parking lot; a tourism office; a cultural hub for artists and farmers; tennis and pickleball courts; an indoor mall with a pool and playground; a hostel for low-income travellers; an art gallery with space for the Shaw Festival; and that the property be returned to Parks Canada.