The Windsor Independent
May 15, 2016
Megahospital funding approved locally with 1% tax levy; regionalism talks upcoming and necessary
The era of Mayor Francis is over. No more will the argument of “holding the line on taxes” have much play in municipal discourse considering the newly approved hospital levy, but also because Mr. Francis has been promoted to President of Windsor Family Credit Union.
Indeed, the end of an era; beginning of a new one.
$108.5 million – no matter how you spin it, Windsor taxpayers are spending an extra one per cent annually for the next 14 years, starting sometime this year. It’s the largest expenditure the City of Windsor has ever considered, let alone approved.
But the hope is that we’re going to get a megahospital, and if we do, it will be state of the art. It will have the possibility to turn Windsor Essex into a medical hub, sparking innovation, economic development, and could directly in turn help grow
our educational institutions through community partnerships, research grants, and other opportunities.
There is also the guarantee it will spur sprawl: extending our communities beyond their natural boundaries, only to be supported through increased financial investment to consistently maintain the increased boundaries.
And regardless of what Councillor Elliott believes, sprawl is not “the future”, it is a problem. Sprawl tears about existing communities, increases costs, and ultimately strains the delivery of services. If sprawl is to be the future as Councillor Elliott says – due to poor planning decisions today – then now is the time to be proactive and find a solution beyond complaining.
l’d rather the megahospital to have been built in the core, but costs and geography don’t warrant it. The province is providing the bulk of the $2 billion, with Windsor and Essex County providing roughly 10 per cent. It’s less expensive to build the hospital on Country Road 42, and that’s that.
Arguments about hollowing out the core, losing medical practices, practitioners and doctors to the county, and a lack of transit routes, when presented to Windsor city council, aren’t going to sway any elected minds.
It doesn’t matter if the new megahospital could transform the region, nor will it sway the province from wanting to get the most bang for their buck.
At this point, the only real argument left is that Windsor doesn’t warrant a megahospital in its core; Essex County does.
A fight for regionalism and shared costs is the best bet forward to make a meaningful impact, not a fight against the proposed location.
Windsor’s population is stagnant at best and hopefully not declining; yet Essex County grows. Whether that growth is fueled by an exodus of Windsorites,
or anyone else incoming, at this point doesn’t matter.
The new megahospital is meant to be regional and central, to service Windsor AND Essex County, and considering construction won’t be completed for potentially upwards of a decade, planning authorities are not looking at where the population lives now (or where they should live – ahem, urban planners), but rather, where they most likely will live. It’s a hospital for the region, not just for Windsor.
And this is exciting, because if we’re truly regional, then it’s time to have those discussions. Let’s talk about regional transportation, policing, cost sharing, etc.
Let’s talk about how this project can unite the region as one. It has the potential to end the continual squabbles between Windsor and Essex County and instead transform them into something positive: working on ways to build the region, not any one individual community.
But let’s not hold back a project that will transform our region as a whole.
It’s about time that Windsor gets something big and magnificent, and even if it might be located on the outskirts, at least we’re getting it; and is it so bad to share it with Essex County?
I don’t think so.
HOLDING THE LINE
MAY 15, 2016
Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.