Could New Niagara Falls Hospital Seal Fate for Thundering Waters Forest?

If All of The Development that Unfolded Around the West St. Catharines Hospital Serves as Any Example, the Answer May be ‘YES’

Niagara’s Hospital System to Hold Zoom Webinar for Public – This Thursday, October 1st, on Plans to Move Foreword with “South Niagara Hospital”

 

 

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher               Doug Draper

Posted September 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The original billboard, erected about seven years ago, way out at the southwest end of Niagara Falls at the proposed site for a new “Niagara South Hospital.” How many people in south Niagara really think this is a good site for a new hospital for the region’s southern tier munincipalities?

When I visited Niagara Health’s website earlier this September and read a notice that it is planning to hold an online “information session” this October 1st on the South Niagara Hospital project, my heart sank.

My first thought was this –

If Niagara Health (formerly known as the Niagara Health System (NHS), created by the former Ontario Mike Harris government to amalgamate Niagara’s system of hospitals), moves forward with this new “South Niagara Hospital” at this site – way out in the woods and fields lands in  the south-western end of Niagara Falls – all of the green areas in between that site and already developed areas closer to the upper Niagara River and Falls, will be urbanized in no time flat.

That includes the roughly 500 acres of Thundering Waters Forest – a haven for roughly 200 acres of provincially significant wetlands – that is located in between where this new “South Niagara Hospital” would go, and already urbanized lands closer to the upper rapids of the river and Falls.

A look at one of many provincially significant wetlands in Thundering Waters Forest – an area now targeted for development by a China-based corporation called GR (Canada) . File photo by Lori Monroe

If you don’t think that is true, just look at what happened after Niagara Health (formerly the NHS) built another new hospital for the region in a green area in west St. Catharines about eight years ago.

Almost all of the orchards, vineyards, hay fields and other green lands that were once there off Fourth Avenue, are now paved over with commercial buildings, which is what one should expect to move in around a hospital.

So why shouldn’t that happened in the case of this proposed hospital site where, almost a decade ago, mayors in Niagara Falls, Welland, Pelham, Port Colborne, Fort Erie and Wainfleet began negotiating over where another new hospital for Niagara’s southern tier should go after the NHS decided – against majority public opinion in Niagara – to locate a new super hospital for the region in west St. Catharines, rather than at a site more central for all of the region’s residents.

So here we are.

There has been little or no noise from Niagara citizens since over where any new hospital for municipalities in the southern half of Niagara should go, or whether it might be better to build a new hospital for Niagara Falls in another place, closer to the city’s already built-up centre, and build or upgrade a hospital for south-end residents somewhere in the Welland area.

So Niagara Health is continuing to move forward with this hospital site way out in the southwest end of Niagara Falls, and is looking at possibly breaking ground for construction within the next few years.

A more recent billboard erected at the site for a so-called South Niagara hospital – this one saying Niagara Falls Hospital. Arguably a real Niagara Falls hospital should be located on a site in or near the centre of that city, not out in the more rural green lands.

I say, so much for all of the green space in between that site and the already built-up areas closer to the upper Niagara River and the Falls, including the Thundering Waters Forest.

If this hospital is built at this site, most of that green area in between will probably be gone.

I hope I am wrong.

  • – Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Now here is the Notice for the October 1st webinar meeting on the South Niagara Hospital Project from Niagara Health –

South Niagara Project – Building a Healthier Niagara

As we collectively work together to respond to and contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Niagara Health’s priority remains the safety, health and well-being of all patients, staff and physicians.

Here is the site, in the brown, way out there in southwestern Niagara Falls in the Lyons Creek area just west of the QEW. All of the green areas, including Thundering Waters Forest, may rapidly be urbanized, just as west St. Catharines was when a new hospital went in there, if this so-called “South Niagara Hosptial” goes in at this site.

Niagara Health has continued to move forward with critical planning for the South Niagara hospital to be located in Niagara Falls.

Now, more than ever, the infrastructure of a hospital is an essential component in ensuring we have the capacity to respond to, and roll out effective infection prevention and control measures.

With the challenges of new and emerging infectious diseases, as well as higher public expectations and awareness of healthcare related issues, Niagara Health is in a great position to consider these aspects when planning the new hospital.  We will take what we are learning in our response to COVID-19 and apply those lessons learned to the new hospital.

Engagement with staff, physicians, patient partners and our community is a critical aspect to our planning. Due to the limited availability of our staff and physicians during the pandemic, our approach to engagement has changed to reflect physical distancing and a focus on virtual platforms of communication. We remain committed to stay on track and are fortunate that our major timelines have not changed as a result of the pandemic. 

By continuing with planning, we ensure Niagara Health is in a position to demonstrate to the Ministry of Health and Infrastructure Ontario, that our priority remains your health and safety, now and in the future.

Learn More

Seamless Integration of Technology

With the South Niagara hospital targeted to open in 2026, part of our planning includes designing an infrastructure to accommodate technology and delivery of healthcare services for the future.

Click here to read more about how Niagara Health is thinking beyond its walls for the design of its new hospital.

https://www.niagarahealth.on.ca/site/south-niagara-hospital-projectPa

To read one of many news commentaries Niagara At Large has posted in the past on this issue, click on  – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/03/01/okay-so-wheres-the-new-hospital-for-south-niagara/

To read news commentary posted earlier this year, 2020, on the Thundering Waters Forest issue, click on https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/02/01/niagara-citizens-pack-room-to-oppose-billion-dollar-development-abomination-for-thundering-waters-forest/

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

One response to “Could New Niagara Falls Hospital Seal Fate for Thundering Waters Forest?

  1. Here we go again….To some people, a mosquito infested swamp is more important than a new hospital and good health care. Where do these nuts come from?

    Like

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