Whitby renews support for new Lakeridge hospital location


Published February 1, 2023 at 3:20 pm

The Town of Whitby’s new council has renewed its support to host Durham Region’s new Lakeridge Health hospital.

A year ago, under the previous mayor and council, Lakeridge Health chose a near the intersection of Hwy. 412 and Hwy. 407 to host their sixth hospital in the region. The new facility will add Whitby to the list of hospital hosts which now includes Ajax, Bowmanville, Oshawa, Port Perry and Uxbridge.

While other communities in Durham lobbied for the hospital, including a particularly hard push for a second Oshawa location, Whitby was ultimately chosen.

Over the fall of 2021, potential spots in Pickering, Oshawa and Whitby all of which had to be at least 10 kilometres from an existing hospital, were inspected for safety requirements, ease of access, and utility services among other criteria in a two-phase submission process.

However, Oshawa’s bid was quickly rejected as their location was within the 10-kilometre radius. Councillor Brian Nicholson railed against this decision as “politically motivated,” calling the radius “arbitrary.”

Pickering’s bid soon fared no better. Concern quickly grew regarding the site’s proximity to the Carruther’s Creek headwaters, long the subject of debate between developers and environmentalists. Studies indicate developing the headwaters would more than double the flooding risk and extend floodplains.

Following a months long selection process, Lakeridge chose Whitby on Jan. 6 2022. The decision was met with jubilation by Whitby. Then Mayor Don Mitchell said, “We applaud Lakeridge Health’s selection of this central location which offers unparalleled connectivity from any direction, so when seconds and minutes count, those who need critical care can get it fast.

He called the location, “absolutely crucial for what will be the only trauma centre between Toronto and Kingston.”

However, Town council was dissolved before the end of the year for the municipal elections. Elizabeth Roy was elected mayor after Mitchell announced he would not run again and several new councillors entered office.

As a result, one of the first actions of the new council was to reaffirm the town’s commitment to the hospital. Council voted for the commitment unanimously on Jan. 30.

“As a new council, it is very important for us to reaffirm this support,” Roy said, “A future hospital in this central location with close proximity to major roads and highways, will serve residents from across Durham. This means that when seconds count, people will be able to get care quickly.”

The next step in the development process is approval from the provincial government. Lakeridge Health needs Ontario to sign off on a $3 million planning grant as part of the next provincial budget to fund the process.

This funding, which Whitby calls “critical” to the project, needs to be earmarked in the 2023 provincial budget.

Roy said, “it’s time for municipalities in Durham to put aside their differences about where the new hospital should be located, and accept the results of the independent review.”

“We’re facing a health care crisis and bringing much-needed health care close to home for Durham residents must be the priority over any differences on where the new hospital should be located. It’s time to accept the results of the Site Selection Independent Expert Panel and move forward, together.”


indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising