The Collingwood General and Marine Hospital redevelopment project has made a government-issued list of upcoming construction projects, which is good news according to the local MPP.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson said he is “very pleased” to see the local hospital included on the Infrastructure Ontario list of projects in pre-procurement.
“This is as concrete as any government can possibly make a promise,” said Wilson. “They’ve put it in their budgetary process, so the money is there.”
The dollar figure assigned to the Collingwood hospital project is a range from $200 million to $499 million.
“What that tells me is that the government still hasn’t made up its mind about whether we’re going to have a brand new hospital on a greenfield site on Poplar Sideroad or a redeveloped, state-of-the-art hospital on the current site,” said Wilson.
He said he is partial to having a new hospital built on a new site (Poplar Sideroad) over redeveloping the existing hospital site on Hume Street.
“My message has been … if people want a new hospital, they need to make noise,” said Wilson.
He has urged people to write to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott with their feedback on the local hospital redevelopment.
“Regardless of what happens in Collingwood, we’re going to have a state-of-the-art hospital,” said Wilson.
According to the update issued by the provincial government, a request for qualifications for construction of the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital will be issued by Spring 2023, with a request for proposals (bids) issued by Fall 2023 and “contract execution” in 2024.
While Wilson said the timeline for construction isn’t clear he’s hoping for a formal announcement from the government about a new hospital by the end of the year.
The quarterly update issued by the provincial government is a list of public-private partnership projects that are planned for the next 10 years.
Including Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH) there are 27 projects on the list in the pre-procurement stage. These projects haven’t gone to tender yet.
“This is the first time Collingwood General and Marine Hospital has moved to the pre-procurement stage,” said Wilson. “Which is just fantastic news. It’s what they do before they’re going to make a formal announcement, normally.”
The Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston is also applying for redevelopment. The project is included in the same quarterly report, but is listed in the planning stage and not pre-procurement.
The local MPP said this quarterly report helps bring some transparency to the government’s construction projects, and also “tips their hand.”
“They’re committed to putting this document out every year now, often before they make the announcement about the hospital or school,” said Wilson.
He acknowledged there will be a provincial election between now and 2023 and it’s entirely possible a new government could cancel or postpone the hospital.
“I’m sure all parties would commit to building our hospitals now that we’re this far down the road,” he said. “You wouldn’t win if you didn’t make that commitment.”
Wilson has been advocating for a new hospital in Collingwood and Alliston for a decade. At one time he said he wouldn’t retire until he saw the new hospitals on the way. But the veteran MPP has already said this will be his last term.
“I’m now saying, hopefully, before I retire, the hospitals will be announced and committed to,” said Wilson. “I think it’s a matter of the government making a formal announcement and following through with the process they’ve committed to.”
The hospital’s redevelopment application has been in stage one of a five-stage process since 2016 when the CGMH officials submitted their first request to the ministry.
Since then, the hospital has received comments on its application from the ministry and resubmitted it. In 2019 the province’s budget included support for the CGMH redevelopment application.
It was included again in the 2021 budget.
CGMH president and CEO Norah Holder issued an email statement in response to the news of the local hospital project being included in the procurements pending list.
"At this time, it's too early to speculate on details and we are eagerly anticipating a letter from the Ministry of Health with additional details, including next steps and clarification of the scope of our project," said Holder.