Group protests new Civic Hospital on Central Experimental Farm

By Caitlin Galipeau

A group of 10 to 15 people gathered at the Central Experimental Farm Observatory on Jan. 21 to protest the latest proposed location of the new Civic Hospital campus.

The Ottawa Hospital’s website says it is leaning toward choosing a 20-hectare chunk of Experimental Farm land that is not being used for research as the new location, after the proposal to build at Tunney’s Pasture was rejected. The new campus would be built on the eastern edge of the farm beside Dow’s Lake.

Neither the CEO nor the chair of the Ottawa Hospital’s Board of Governors were available to comment on the proposal.

Clive Doucet, former city councillor, attended the demonstration on Saturday. He said he is upset by the hospital’s decision to build on the farm.

“Dow’s Lake is probably the most important gathering spot outside of Parliament Hill that the city has,” Doucet said. “It’s very beautiful and part of its beauty comes from the extensive, noble green space at the western side, basically [the] Experimental Farm.”

Doucet said the proposal would result in the loss of irreplaceable heritage trees and essential green space. “It’s a National Historic Site, and it should be protected, but it isn’t.”

The hospital’s website says it decided against building at Tunney’s Pasture because the site’s lack of accessibility and the high cost of demolishing the existing building would interfere with their plan to complete construction of the new Civic campus by 2026.

Doucet said the construction of the hospital on the Experimental Farm would be a “new violence” against the quality of life in Ottawa. He said the size of the building and parking lot would be very damaging to the area.

“It’s the wrong message in this time of climate change, nationally and internationally,” he said.