The $2.8-billion master site plan for the new Civic hospital campus has surpassed its second major hurdle in as many days.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) board of directors approved the plan at its Tuesday meeting and it included a condition the hospital provide a "seamless, intuitive and weather-protected" connection between the Dow's Lake LRT station and the hospital's main entrance.
The plan was just approved by the City of Ottawa's planning committee Monday.
NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum said the connection between the hospital and light rail will help the hospital achieve its goal of 60 per cent of visitors and staff arriving by public transit, walking or cycling.
"We really want to do everything we can to help the hospital succeed in achieving that modal target so that focus on transit integration is something that's going to be very, very important," Nussbaum said.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who has a non-voting seat on the NCC board, said the city supports a direct connection, but the hospital will need to find funding and conduct the necessary environmental assessment to fulfil the recommendation.
"We have to make sure that that doesn't stall the rest of the project," Watson said. "We do very much want to see that connectivity. I think it's about ... a five-minute walk, which is reasonable in transit terms."
Watson said a bridge could cost between $14 and 16 million and a tunnel would be more expensive.
The NCC did not address a planning committee request for federal protection of the rest of the Central Experimental Farm, but Nussbaum said that would fit with the NCC's overall conservation mandate.
"I think we would absolutely have an open mind to engaging with other federal partners and other stakeholders in the region on that question," he said.
The NCC will be involved in all future development of the hospital site because it leased the federally owned land to the hospital, staff told the board.
Finding a LeBreton 'destination'
The NCC is also preparing to launch a process this fall to attract a new "destination" tenant for the LeBreton Flats redevelopment.
A previous redevelopment plan included an NHL arena for the Ottawa Senators, but that failed. The NCC then set aside some land for a possible events centre that would act as an anchor tenant for the site.
The NCC said this new process would examine proposals for a site at the centre of the development, and a second one encompassing land on the north side of Albert Street between City Centre Avenue and Preston Street.
The NCC also said it has shortlisted three groups for the development of a parcel of land at 655 Albert St., known as the "library parcel" because of its proximity to the new central library. A winner will be announced in January.