As a former candidate for Collingwood Council in the last municipal election, I have continued to follow the activities of the current Council. While I may not agree with every decision they have made, overall I feel they have done a good job of making sound, rational choices regarding the future of the community.
Over the past few months I have followed the ongoing saga regarding the hospital re-development process and I did attend the recent public meeting at the Georgian Bay Hotel. The media has published numerous stories about the alleged adversarial relationship that has existed between the Town and the hospital Board. The hospital Board has seemingly been casting aspersions about Council’s failure to support the Board’s choice of Poplar Sideroad as the best if not only location on which to build a new facility.
I do not profess to be an expert on this situation but my observations lead me to believe it is the hospital Board and not the Town that has impeded the process of advancing our case for a new medical facility with the Ministry of Health. There is no question that our current hospital is struggling to keep up with the demands of the community and will continue to do so as more and more ageing Ontarians retire here. From everything I have seen and read, the hospital Board seems to have been focused solely on location (Poplar Sideroad) versus selling the Ministry on the need for a new facility here. It is my understanding that ultimately the Ministry of Health decides on location anyway so why spend time advocating one and only one location when it’s not your call to begin with? As with any effective sales pitch selling “why” something is needed comes first and in this case the “where” is secondary.
Apparently I am not alone in my thinking. An article published on Simcoe.com titled “Planner tells Collingwood Hospital Board: stop being combative criticises the Board for have a combative attitude when it comes to their preferred site. In this article land use planner Don May is critical of the hospital Board’s position on the Poplar Sideroad location and the adversarial approach they have taken in defending this location as their preferred site.
There is no doubt that we need a new and or an expanded hospital in the area. Needing one and getting one are two very different matters. Let’s face it, we are not the only community in Ontario that is facing challenges when it come to health care. Every level of government including the Province is cash strapped, there is only so much money to go around and $300 to $400 million for a new hospital is not money that is just lying there for the taking. On top of that millions of dollars in road improvements would be needed on Poplar Sideroad to create the appropriate access to a new medical facility there.
When I ran for Collingwood Council one aspect of my platform was that many of the issues facing this area are “regional” in nature. Economic development, transportation and yes health care all need a regional approach to find the proper and affordable solutions, One group in Collingwood wants the General and Marine hospital to remain where it is while the hospital Board wants a new facility on Popular Sideroad. Meanwhile, Wasaga Beach has offered “free” land hoping to attract a new hospital there. That is not working collaboratively for the better good of the region, it’s municipality versus municipality playing for the spoils and unless something changes and soon, we will not see a new hospital here in my lifetime and or perhaps yours.