Whitby celebrates town’s selection as home of new Lakeridge Health hospital


Published January 6, 2022 at 3:46 pm

After a months long bidding war between Durham municipalities, Whitby has been selected as the preferred location for the new Lakeridge Health hospital, causing jubilation from the town and disappointment from their competitors in Oshawa and Pickering.

The announcement came on January 6, months after Lakeridge Health opened bids for site selection in September. Oshawa, Pickering and Whitby each submitted potential locations in the north half of their boundaries.

Over the fall, the three locations, all of which had to be at least 10 kilometres from an existing hospital, were inspected for safety requirements, ease of access, and utility services among other criteria in a two phase submission process.

These submissions were then reviewed by an independent expert panel, which was expected to complete their review by the end of 2021. Sure enough the decision to eliminate Oshawa from the running came in December.

The proposed Oshawa location, just north of the Ontario Tech University campus, was eliminated because it fell within the 10 km radius from Lakeridge Health Oshawa at only seven km away, according to the panel.

However, Mayor Dan Carter pledged to fight on saying the final decision was “many, many, many years” away. Councillor Brian Nicolson took it a step further decrying the move as “politically motivated.”

“This is what happens when you have a process that is run by political people,” he claimed. “This has been a mistake from day one.”

The axe came down again for Pickering last week when Mayor Dave Ryan was told they too had been eliminated despite the fact the proposed land were set to be donated, potentially saving the project $40 million.

The Pickering site, located on the Carruther’s Creek headwaters was mired in controversy surrounding environmental impacts and an increased risk of flooding should the area be developed, despite Ryan claiming the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority had confirmed  the site was outside of the potential enhanced natural heritage system illustrated in the Carruthers Creek Watershed Plan.

Days later, Lakeridge Health announced they had chosen Whitby, the last community standing, as recommended by the expert panel because it best fit the criteria outlined in the call for proposal and met the needs residents voiced in a survey.

The new hospital will sit just south of Highway 407, west of Highway 412, east of Lake Ridge Road and north of Winchester Road.

“The location is easily accessible due to its proximity to major existing highways and roadways, as well as planned public transit. Its location in central Durham Region will help to serve residents across the region,” a statement from Lakeridge Health read.

The move was immediately supported by Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell, Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier and Regional Chair John Henry.

“Today is an exciting day for residents from across the entire Durham Region,” said Mitchell in a statement. He thanked the expert panel and Lakeridge health for their efforts and for keeping the process transparent through a fairness advisor.

“We applaud Lakeridge Health’s selection of this central location which offers unparalleled connectivity from any direction, so when seconds and minutes count, those who need critical care can get it fast,” he continued, calling the location, “absolutely crucial for what will be the only trauma centre between Toronto and Kingston.”

Henry later announced his support on this “historic day” saying, “this hospital will ensure no one falls through the cracks. It will allow residents from across Durham Region to access excellent health care.”

Collier added his voice to the choir of support. “The Town of Ajax fully supports the unanimous decision,” he said. “This decision also ensures the continued protection of the Carruthers Creek Headwaters which is critical to ensuring responsible development and environmental sustainability.”

In the next step the Town of Whitby, the Region of Durham and the Province of Ontario will work together with Lakeridge Health to figure out the details of the plan and ensure it follows each organizations’ master plan.

Henry concluded his statement saying, “Durham Region is recognized as on of the best places in Ontario live work and raise a family. This announcement highlights our focus on maintaining this for years to come.”

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