Not even two weeks after it was dealt another loss in the courts, the Windsor group fighting the location of a planned acute-care hospital is not giving up.
A release issued Friday morning said Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process, or CAMPP, was pursuing other options.
Eric Gillespie, the Toronto lawyer who represents the group, said CAMPP plans to continue its works within the existing planning process.
"There are going to be further consultations coming up with the City of Windsor, and there are also many opportunities for people in the community to interact with people both at the local and provincial political levels," he explained. "This project is still a number of years away from anything actually being started."
In an email from Mayor Drew Dilkens' Chief of Staff, Andrew Teliszewsky said the city would not be interested in meeting behind closed doors with the group.
"Separate meetings, directly for one stakeholder group, behind closed doors is probably not something that will be entertained and should actually be avoided," he wrote to BlackburnNews.com.
Teliszewsky also clarified that the next round of public consultation would be lead by Windsor Regional Hospital, not the city. He said those sessions would determine the mix of health care services offered across the local healthcare system.
Philippa Von Ziegenweidt with the group Citizens for an Accountable Mega hospital Planning Process submits a petition to Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky's office on April 15, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)
Back on May 12, an Ontario Divisional Court denied CAMPP's request to extend the time to appeal its decision in July 2020. At that time, the court ruled city council's decision to locate the new hospital on County Road 42 across from Windsor's airport did not violate zoning bylaws and the city's official plan. The ruling did leave the door open for CAMPP to further pursue the matter through the courts.
"CAMPP has decided not to do that at this time," said Gillespie. "There may be some opportunities in the future if things are not working out in terms of the planning processes."
Instead, he said the group will engage the public, politicians, and the land use process.
"We also have to remember, we're not that far away from the next municipal election, and a decision of a municipal council from the past doesn't bind a future municipal council," added Gillespie saying he would not be surprised if the location of the hospital became a hot election issue.
It would not be the first time the group has banked its hopes on fresh faces in the council chamber. Last November, the current council voted 7-4 to reaffirm an earlier council's decision in 2015.
The spot on County Road 42 at the Ninth Concession has also been endorsed by Essex County Council, labour and business groups. It was also the issue at the centre of multiple public campaigns designed to counter CAMPP's arguments the location will hurt the city's core, mean fewer hospital beds, and the loss of healthcare workers in the region.
CAMPP started its fight more than five years ago, and has two previous losses in the courts, in Ontario Division Court and at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.