Council rejects all 9 proposals for old hospital site

·2 min read

It's back to the drawing board for future plans for Niagara-on-the-Lake's old hospital site.

Nine companies responded to the town's request for ideas about how to redevelop the old hospital – but council rejected all the proposals as unsuitable and cancelled the process, a report released Monday shows.

The town hired a fairness monitor in April 2021 to help collect expressions of interest on what to do with the valuable property at 176 Wellington St. in Old Town.

The job of the fairness adviser, Optimus SBR Inc., was to ensure the integrity of the process.

After launching the search and examining the submissions, "council determined that none of the proposals adequately satisfied all the strategic objectives of the town," Greg Dadd, principal of Optimus, said in a report to council dated July 12.

The submissions were excellent but the old hospital could not accommodate every one of them, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said in an interview.

As well, the town needed to assess alternative locations for the proposed projects compiled by Dadd because "the hospital alone can't do it," the mayor said.

The project proposals varied widely, from housing plans and seniors facility, to a motel and parking for the public, she said.

"We probably need most of them, but they all can't go on the same spot," Disero said.

With council's rejection of all the ideas and owing to "the substantive change in the economic environment due to COVID-19 since the request for expressions of interest was issued," council decided not to proceed detailed proposals and cancelled the process, Dadd said.

The companies that submitted proposals were identified as: the Arts, Culture and Education Hub, Fortis Construction Group Inc., Fram Building Group Ltd., Idrakoth Limited, Lais Hotel Properties, Manor Village Life Centres Inc., Niagara-on-the-Lake Wellness Centre Inc., Wellness Suites Condominiums and White Owl Properties Ltd.

At Monday's committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Gary Burroughs wanted to know what the next steps would be for the old hospital.

Chief administrator Marnie Cluckie said staff would return to council, likely in January after the fall election, "to workshop what council would like to see.”

“From that information we would be in a position to go out for a request for proposal,” she added.

Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report