Planning for the new Civic hospital

By Bhagwant Sandhu 
and Sue Stefko

While largely out of the public eye, planning for the new Civic Campus of The Ottawa Hospital is well underway.

This September, planning for the new facility entered stage two of the Ministry of Health’s Capital Planning Process, which involves outlining the future facility’s functional programming as well as business planning and operational budget planning. The functional programming process breaks down what clinical and research programs will be in place, determines space and equipment requirements for each function, and sets out what the physical placement of these in relation to each other should be. This in turn will drive the required square footage as well as basic architecture and design concepts for the project overall.

Stage two plans will be submitted to Ontario’s Ministry of Health next spring, paving the way for a number of future milestones. These include selecting the preferred proponents for the build and releasing a more detailed design plan (2022), construction (2024 to 2027) and the official opening (2028).

It’s expected that the new facility will fulfil many of the functions currently being performed at the existing Civic Campus, including trauma, neurology, vascular care and research. While the Heart Institute will initially stay at its current location, it will eventually migrate to the new campus. In fact, when the hospital opens in 2028, the site will be approximately two million square feet, which is about the same as the existing campus. But it will get bigger – by 2037-38, it is expected to grow to three million square feet, incorporating more beds, clinical services, research and rehabilitation. Over the next decade, the hospital will grow by a further million square feet to include the Heart Institute, more clinical services and possibly expanded research. In this way, the hospital is planning to evolve with the needs of a growing catchment area, which includes Ottawa, western Quebec and Nunavut.

The COVID-19 pandemic is reinforcing some of the initial concepts for the new hospital, such as single-occupancy rooms and private bathrooms. Lessons from COVID-19 are also helping the project development team design the new facility to be more resilient during future pandemics and other emergency events.

On a more local note, many community members are anxious to see the transportation plan for the project, including the number and type of parking spaces, whether any roads will be modified to accommodate the traffic coming to the new facility and how traffic is expected to be routed to the site overall. These details are not yet known – they will be considered as part of an upcoming transportation and mobility study, which will be completed during the site planning process.

We realize that issues related to traffic, transportation and parking are at the forefront of our communities’ concerns. As members of the Campus Engagement Group (CEG), we have advocated for measures to reduce traffic impacts on local communities. This includes establishing traffic access points that minimize adverse neighbourhood impacts resulting from cut-through traffic, encouraging public and active transportation to minimize the use of private vehicles, and calling for no surface parking on the site. Along with our other CEG partners, we have also advocated for a campus that minimizes environmental impact and leads the way as a champion for sustainability, a healthy environment and public greenspace. These are principles that will continue to remain at the heart of our involvement in this project.

In the spring of 2018, The Ottawa Hospital constituted a 22-member Campus Engagement Group (CEG) to bring together the interests of patients, neighbouring communities and other stakeholders for input on the planning of the new acute-care facility to replace the current Civic Campus on Carling Ave.  Bhagwant Sandhu and Sue Stefko represent the Glebe Community Association, the Dows Lake Residents’ Association and the Glebe Annex Community Association on the CEG.

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