Pickering mayor questions decision to locate new Durham Region hospital in Whitby

·2 min read
Lakeridge Health's Oshawa location is pictured here. The hospital network says it will build a new health-care facility in Whitby.  (Google Earth - image credit)
Lakeridge Health's Oshawa location is pictured here. The hospital network says it will build a new health-care facility in Whitby. (Google Earth - image credit)

Durham Region is getting a new hospital, which will be built over the next decade, but the mayor of Pickering is questioning the decision to build it in Whitby.

Lakeridge Health, a hospital and health-care network that serves the region east of Toronto, announced Thursday the new facility will be built on 50 acres in north Whitby, near highways 407 and 412.

This is great news for all Durham residents, Whitby Coun. Steve Yamada told CBC News.

"The site is located in the heart of the region," he said. "This is a hospital that's going to be able to serve the growing population here in our community."

But Dave Ryan, the mayor of Pickering, says he's disappointed his community's bid for the hospital was passed over.

"Pickering will have the largest population in Durham Region and is the only city in the region to not have a major health-care facility," Dave Ryan tweeted on Wednesday.

Lakeridge Health accepted an independent panel's recommendation to build the hospital in Whitby. The site was chosen as a central location that can serve residents all across Durham region, according to a news release from the hospital network.

The release outlined the next steps in the process, which include meeting with the Town of Whitby, consulting with community stakeholders and opening up discussions with Ontario's Ministry of Health to begin the approval process for the new hospital.

CBC
CBC

But Ryan told CBC News the successful bid may cost taxpayers more than the proposal from Pickering, which is located about 18 kilometres southwest of Whitby.

Had Pickering been chosen, the land for the hospital would have been donated by one of the city's development partners, saving taxpayers millions of dollars, Ryan said.

He said the Whitby site, which is currently owned by the province, could fetch up to $40 million on the open market and he has asked for the bids to be made public.

"I think the public has a right to know how the decision was made [so] they can reach their own conclusions," he said.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Lakeridge Health said the decision was made by a panel of highly respected and recognized experts who are independent of the hospital network and its board of trustees.

"The selection was made based on criteria that were subject to widespread consultation — including with each municipality and regional government, as well as with emergency care, traffic, environmental, and developmental experts, First Nations, and thousands of Durham residents," the statement reads.

Yamada, the Whitby town councillor, thanked Lakeridge Health and it's expert panel, acknowledging that a fairness adviser oversaw the review process to ensure that an equitable decision was made.

"This robust process ensures fairness in determining the best site on behalf of all residents ... It was fair. It was transparent," Yamada told CBC News.

"This is a win for Durham Region residents"

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