A candidate running for the Ward 4 seat on Windsor City Council doesn't think it's too early to start talking about the future of Windsor Regional Hospital's Met Campus.
Once the proposed new acute care hospital opens on County Road 42, the Met Campus will close, but Mark McKenzie said many residents he's talked to are anxious about what will happen on the lot on Tecumseh Road East.
One thing is clear. Residents know what they don't want.
BlackburnNews.com file photo.
"The neighbours worry it's going to end up like the Grace Hospital site," said McKenzie.
After that hospital closed in 2004, the building sat empty for nine years. During that period, projects to redevelop the site came and went.
In July 2020, the City of Windsor entered an agreement with Fairmount Properties of Shaker Heights, Ohio, to build a new multi-use development.
McKenzie hopes to avoid history repeating itself.
"As of now, the plan is to just tear it down and then redevelop it," he said. "Let's start working on that now, so that way when the new mega-hospital opens and they close the Met Campus, we can immediately get to work on what's next for it."
McKenzie said residents have ideas about what they'd like to see, including a long-term care facility, a grocery store, or new residential development.
McKenzie is also calling for regular cleanups in South Walkerville's Memorial Park after recent fires and the overdose death of a woman there.
He accused the city of neglecting the park for years.
"It's time for the city to take action," he said, vowing to allocate ward funds to clean up the park, enhance the dog park and the playground, and improve lighting.
McKenzie said he'd also like Memorial Park to become home to community events like craft shows and food truck rallies.
The park, which tends to be a gathering place for homeless people, also floods during heavy rainfalls creating the potential for tragedy.
"Individuals living in the park further highlights the need for affordable housing and proper social services," added McKenzie. "These people are human beings, and we need to treat them as such. Let's work with all levels of government to address the root causes."
The municipal election is on October 24.