New Civic Hospital at the Farm – a call to action


The author stands with his homemade sign between two 60-year-old honey locust trees on the Central Experimental Farm. Those two trees and all others behind him will be chopped down for a hospital parking lot.

By Walter Hendelman

Construction on the site of the Civic Hospital at the Central Experimental Farm [CEF] adjacent to Dow’s Lake is about to start unless we all take action to stop it now!

Here’s a brief history of this site selection. The NCC, after an extensive public consultation, recommended Tunney’s Pasture as the site for a new Civic Hospital. The hospital board “rejected” that site on November 29, 2016, with only sketchy reasons given. After a few days of closed-doors meetings in the mayor’s office, it was announced that the national historic site of the Central Experimental Farm overlooking Dow’s Lake would be the new hospital’s location – again, no reasons and no details provided.

Below is a listing of what we know as of this writing:

  • 40-plus acres of the heritage site of the Farm has been signed over for the new hospital site as well as the Dow’s Lake parking lot.
  • About five acres comprising Queen Juliana Park will be for a 2,500-vehicle, four-storey, above-ground parking garage.
  • The garage structure is entirely funded by The Ottawa Hospital [TOH] at a cost of $300 million. The province’s funding model does not include parking for hospitals.
  • The garage will have a green roof “for the public,” but it will not support the growth of large mature trees.
  • Other information:
  • More than 500 mature trees and countless smaller trees on the site will be chopped down.
  • The LRT station will not be moved from the north side of Carling to the south side closer to the hospital site.
  • Access to the front door of the hospital from the LRT station is estimated to be about four to five football fields (the hospital site is on the hill, up 15 to 20 metres from the ground level of Carling).
  • A request for an environmental impact assessment has been submitted to the Minister of the Environment by ReImagine Ottawa and others.
  • The hospital board of governors has not responded to a request to hold a public meeting about the site.
  • Buildings called the Carling Village (presumably condos) are to be built by the hospital on the corner of Preston and Carling.
Site of the hospital and the parking garage

According to information available online, 34 high rises are now under construction or planned in the vicinity of the proposed site, adding 9,000 apartments and condos and their vehicles to the traffic load in the area.

The Dow’s Lake area will be severely impacted by hundreds of cars each day, seeking to avoid the parking fees in the garage. Glebe streets will be overwhelmed by traffic cutting through the area, endangering the safety of the countless children who walk and bike to local schools. Forget about access to the Tulip Festival, Dow’s Lake, Winterlude and the Ornamental Gardens.

When will all this construction begin? Since both the NCC and our City Council have already approved the site plan, effectively now – next month, in March, starting with the destruction of trees and the building of the garage.

What Can You Do?

Go to the ReImagine Ottawa website Look for the headings GET INVOLVED and RESOURCES. Choose your target audience, then send an email to or phone one or two or as many as you’d like of the officials listed. Please tell them that this ecological and logistical disaster cannot, should not and must not proceed, and why.

There is at least one perfectly suitable alternative site available now – Tunney’s Pasture, where the ground is flat, parking lots are plentiful, very few trees need to be cut, and it is already serviced by the main trunk line of the LRT.

The Glebe Community Association has spoken out clearly and strongly about the plans for the new hospital site – please go to Ottawa-born Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian music icon and recipient of the Order of Canada and many music awards, has spoken out against the hospital development at the Central Experimental Farm. His video message is on the ReImagine website, along with a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (“. . .and put up a parking lot”) by two Grade 11 students singing on the snow-covered site amongst trees that will be demolished. Perhaps it is time to re-read Dr. Seuss’s LORAX.

The Ottawa Hospital will soon be conducting a fundraising campaign to build this parking structure. What will you do?

Walter Hendelman is a long-time resident in the Glebe, a retired neuroscientist and professor and a community participant and activist.

Share this