City will debate how much they want to take from your wallet and when they propose to actually pick your pocket. JBMH funding.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 8, 2010  A city council committee will consider a contribution agreement confirming how and when the city will contribute $60 million toward the redevelopment of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, subject to the conditions within the agreement.

The city agreed in principle to put up half of the $120 million the province required the community to contribute to the redevelopment of  a hospital built in 1961. The last major update and refurbishment was more than 40 years ago.

Problems cropped up when the hospital suggested the city pay for the building of the parking garage that was needed early in the redevelopment.  Cars had to be given a place to park so that space could be used to dig a hole in the ground and begin the actual construction the hospital hopes to see started before the end of the year.

City council has possession of this file – which means reports and site plans go to a council committee where they get debated and discussed..  The usual practice for Council is to delegate this to the Director of Planning.

The City approved a contribution of up to $60 million in December 2009 , with the intention of preparing a contribution agreement between the city and the hospital. The go-forward strategy,  approved by City Council in April 2012, called for the city to negotiate a contribution agreement that provides for the “responsible and timely release of funds.” Four negotiation meetings were held between the negotiating teams for the city and the hospital in May and June 2012.

These were very contentious meetings and while everyone has kissed and made up the city at the time insisted on knowing what was going to be done with the money they drew from taxpayers.

Mayor does the usual political speak and tells taxpayers the agreement with the hospital represents a milestone – he could have said it represents a “millstone” to the taxpayers and been just as correct.

In typical political bafflegab Mayor Goldring said: “This agreement is an important milestone in the much-needed redevelopment of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.  We want to ensure that we have the best agreement possible for taxpayers while ensuring high quality health care for years to come.”

Assuming the contribution agreement is approved by City Council on July 16, the city’s contribution will go toward the purchase of equipment for the second phase of the hospital’s redevelopment, which includes construction of about 288,000 square feet (21,182 square metres) of new hospital space, including a new six-storey south tower; construction of a new power plant; and the renovation of about 116,000 square feet (10,777 square metres) within the existing hospital building.

Construction of the hospital is planned to begin in December 2014 and will take about three years to complete.   Before that construction can get underway the hospital has to clear some land and build a structure that will include a parking garage.  This first phase is scheduled to begin in early 2013 and finish in early 2014. It will include construction of the parking garage and administrative space that will house the Halton McMaster Family Health Centre. City funds are not contributing to the first phase of the redevelopment.

In a prepared statement city general manager Scott Stewart, General Manager of Community Services said: “On behalf of the staff negotiating team, I am pleased to bring forward what we believe is a responsible draft contribution agreement for council to consider.”  He might have added that there was a lot of arm twisting and muttering under their breath to get to this point.  Stewart deserves credit for landing this one; the hospital administration did not make it easy.

The construction of the additions to the hospital will orient everything towards the lake and result in significant changes to the traffic flow and to the way people see Lakeshore Road and the Beachway community.

By the end of 2012, the city will have a total of $8.4 million in the bank collecting interest. A total of $4.8 million came from a special tax levy. City Council also earmarked $3.6 million from previous years’ surpluses in 2009 through 2011.  The 2012 tax levy amounted to $7.49 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

City Manager Jeff Fielding said at a council meeting that a $60 million undertaking will be the biggest Burlington has ever done and it represents a significant long term expense for the taxpayers.

Stephen Friday, JBMH chair will bring a different style to the role he now plays. He has a strong working relationship with the Mayor which will help. He also has the smartest collection of ties in the city.

Up until very recently hospitals were a provincial responsibility – that changed when the province looked to the municipalities for a portion of the funding where new, significant developments were being done.  If the municipality is at the table financially one would hope it would have more input on the operation of the hospital – which would result on a significant change in the way the city and the hospital administration work together.

There is now a new chair at the hospital. Susan Busby who spent more than 15 years with first the hospital foundation and then the hospital board took a well-earned retirement.  She has been replaced by Stephen Friday who brings a significantly different operating style to what he does and has a background that included working with very senior managers and was a major force in one of the larger asset management firms in Ontario.

There are opportunities now for both the Mayor of the city and Stephen Friday, the new hospital chair to fashion a different working relationship that will reflect the changing times.






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1 comment to City will debate how much they want to take from your wallet and when they propose to actually pick your pocket. JBMH funding.

  • John Lawson

    Health care costs are the biggest part of our rising provincial budget. We will keep building bigger hospitals,hire more administrators,secretaries,fund raisers,etc. Yet health isn’t improing,young people especially woman are continuing to smoke,obesity and diabetes is on the rise,poor diet and lack of basic nutritional knowledge. Until people start taking on the personal responsibility of doing all they can to stay healthy we will continue to drain the public purse.