Concerned citizens and members have raised an interesting point. It seems that Council and the community may have been misled about core arguments used to justify the selection of the parkland for the development, but specifically the Health Hub.
The information received is as follows:
Chigamik is really a Community Health Centre by another name. In their justifications to Council and the Community they have repeatedly stated that they need to have ‘donated’ land for their funding to work.
On the town of Midland’s own website, for months leading up to the controversial decision to re-zone the land, they display what can only be viewed as a sales pitch to justify the decision that they inevitably reached.
The very first section of that sales pitch concludes with the following statement as to why it has to be this land and why no other location is suitable:
“The Ministry of Health does not provide funding to purchase land. Historically, hospitals and other publicly funded health care facilities have had the land donated or may partner with Municipalities.”
That statement or some variation of it with a common theme, was repeated by Councillors, the Mayor and even their architect, and in the end undoubtedly lead to the councillors voting the way they did… based on this over-simplified fraction of truth.
Even more troubling is that in a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) document posted on Chigamik’s own website on August 4th 2015, they publicly make the following statement: (that FAQ document is attached below for your review)
“What about other existing properties where a new building could be built? Thank you to a number of people who provided ideas for other locations. Health care dollars for new buildings unfortunately do not include funds for purchasing land. Historically hospitals and other publicly funded health care facilities have had the land donated or may partner with municipalities. Several building sites have been reviewed such as the old LCBO location and former St. Theresa’s high school property. The various locations do not fit the requirements and vision for the health centre for example the size of the property is not large enough, the building does not have enough natural light and elements for a healing environment or is not close to the downtown and other services and resources.”
In fact, in reading the Community Health Centre Guidelines from the CHC, (top of page 16) it states:
“The MOHLTC (Ministry of Health and Long Term Care) will consider approval of projects involving a range of physical solutions to meet LHIN-endorsed program and service needs including leasehold improvements, renovations, expansion additions, land purchase, or construction of a new purpose-built structure. ”
That clearly states that their funding can be applied for in any number of other scenarios INCLUDING THE PURCHASE OF LAND. The fact that they were looking at some 20 properties before settling on Edgehill Park speaks to this clearly. Were any of those other properties to be obtained by donation or were they looking at buying, leasing, renovating etc? It sounds and reads like the grant application was written around the desire to build on Edgehill Park to the exclusion of all other options.
Since neither the Ministry, the CHC or Local Health Integration Network (LHIN – where they applied for the funding from the Ministry) put any constraints about building on ‘pristine’ land, nor do they disallow ‘brownfield’ builds (where former commercial or industrial land is proposed) one can only assume that all involved set about a plan to control what cards they had in their hands, then involved the dealer and at least two of the players in a high-stakes game of poker with this town-owned heritage parkland.
Furthermore, and just as troubling is that at the public meeting on August 12th, the architect (LETT) is quoted “Mr. Lett advised that the funding model under Ministry of Long Term and Care provides funding where there is a donation of land.” in response to residents asking why other lands in the town were deemed unsuitable. Edgehill Public Session Minutes.
While this statement is true, it is not the whole truth. For some reason, known only to the architect, they chose to “leave out” or “fail to include” all the other funding options and could only lead any reasonable person in attendance to believe that donation was the ONLY way. What were their motivations to only reveal a portion of the truth or, quite frankly, speak about it at all?
Did someone mis-speak? Did someone mis-represent? Did someone purposely mislead the community and Council with artificial limitations that effectively lead our council towards ultimate approval thinking no other options were viable?
You read the attachment and form your own opinions. If council was not provided ALL the facts and instead only the version of the facts that supported the submission, we have a very serious issue in play.
We wonder if Council is at all concerned that it appears that they were misled and that the public has been misled?