Weston walking club set for June.

The beneficial mental and physical effects of walking are well known. In June, the Humber River Family Health Team is holding a series of 60-minute Tuesday and Thursday walks along the Humber. The idea is to help Weston FHT patients with their health and fitness goals but anyone can participate.

A carpet of flowers stretches along the path in Cruickshank Park last June (file).

Entry requirements: participants must undergo a brief health screening one or two weeks prior to the walks to determine that vital signs like blood pressure are satisfactory. Screenings are at no cost to participants.

According to organizers, “We will walk for 60 minutes. 30 minutes reserved for cool down stretches, education and light refreshments.”.

Walks will begin at the Humber River Family Health Team’s location at 2050 Weston Road (the old Post Office building).

Dates:  June 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28

Time for all walks: 1-2:30pm

Phone 416 740 2810 for more information and to book a screening.

Could the Weston hospital re-open?

The province will likely reopen the Jane and Finch branch of the Humber River Regional Hospital, according to to Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Health. It may be used to ease a capacity crunch in pre-longterm care. Perhaps the Church Street site could be also be reopened.

Both the Jane and Finch and Church Street sites were closed in 2015. The HRRHs’ services were consolidated at the new Wilson and Keele site.

The Church site, which  Hoskins did not mention in his speech at Queen’s Park, remains unsold as lawyers work through a thorny issue: the Trimbee family gave away a chunk of land the building sits on with a condition: its ownership would revert to the Town of Weston if it were no longer used as a hospital.

Re-opening the Church site may be a long shot, but the province could use as many as 3000 beds for people too ill or too frail to go home but who are not suited to the acute care provided at a hospital. The Finch site has only 150. In a spirited exchange at Queen’s Park, Hoskins said

since day one of that new hospital opening, we have been looking at this as a positive opportunity to free up capacity in a number of hospitals, not just Humber River. There are a number of hospitals in Toronto and the GTA that are contributing to this plan.

 

West Park to be redeveloped

The West Park Healthcare Centre in Mount Dennis has asked for permission to change their campus quite a bit: one central building will replace three of the older buildings leading to “loss of the central lawn”, road building, and “potential impact[s] on the open space, natural heritage areas and trees on the lands”.

WP proposal
WP proposal

 

West Park now
West Park now

The planning process has been going on since 2003, and a new building is justified on the grounds that the older buildings are not up to “contemporary standards of care”.  In 2010, the centre received its first round of approval from the city.

Still, the central lawn is one of the facility’s most striking features: I wonder if it was for sick tuberculosis patients to take the air back when the site was the Toronto Free Hospital for the Consumptive Poor. It would be a shame to lose it; the site also provides riverside greenspace, and a mature tree canopy.

A meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 5 to discuss the proposal. I’ll update when I find out where it will be.

 

Humber River Regional Hospital – the drama continues

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The new Humber River Regional Hospital.

When the Church Street campus of the Humber River Regional Hospital closed, the community had mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Hospital had since 2007, transformed itself from the second most dangerous hospital in the country into one that was within acceptable limits. On the other, although the neighbourhood facility was a community asset, a brand new facility promised to improve patient care using state of the art equipment and communications.

Now, there are ominous rumblings that the new incarnation may be a cause for concern. The Teamsters Union, which represents cleaning staff at HRRH, has issued a list of safety issues that include:

  • Traces of blood, urine and other bodily fluids can be found throughout the hospital, usually on the floor.
  • Rodents have been observed in the hospital.
  • Feces, urine and other bodily fluids can’t be cleaned properly because the (hospital issued) micro-fibre mops aren’t made to wash certain surfaces.

Right from a sci-fi novel, another of the complaints refers to robots having first dibs on the elevators. The full list is here.

The union is engaged in a bit of a death struggle with the hospital which has begun contracting out cleaning to a company that pays about half of what hospital cleaners make. Let’s hope the obsession with cost cutting won’t lead to safety or quality of care issues for patients and staff.

Read more in this Toronto Star article.

Sullivan: Weston’s hospital site.

Now that the dust has settled after October’s Federal Election, I was curious as to how former York South-Weston Member of Parliament, Mike Sullivan was adjusting to the new reality of being a regular citizen once more. He agreed to an in-depth interview and we sat down last Friday over coffees in a busy Perfect Blend Bakery. We touched on four main topics that have been published over the last few days.

Already published:

1. Fallout from the election

2. The Weston Cultural Hub

3. Metrolinx

The fourth and final issue that we discussed was Weston’s recently closed hospital.

4. The Church Street, former Humber River Regional Hospital Site.

The Humber River Hospital’s three campus locations have closed to be replaced by a brand new hospital at Wilson and Keele. In preparation for the closing of our local Church Street site, the Hospital Board went ahead with plans to sell the site to the highest bidder. Some people then pointed out that a significant chunk of the original site was a bequest with the proviso that the land would be used for a Weston hospital in perpetuity. The matter is now before the courts.

The Church Street Site last August before it closed.
The Church Street Campus last August before it closed.

Sullivan sees a solution in the way other parts of the province have handled their hospital closings,

What should happen is the Province pays the appropriate price for the property and turns it into a long term care facility which they have already done in Parry Sound and Ottawa and other places where hospitals that have been decommissioned have become long term care facilities. According to (York South-Weston MPP) Ms. Albanese, it’s not as simple as one arm of the province buying the hospital from another. She said that the hospital is entirely run by a private corporation that has nothing to do with the province and that corporation can do whatever it wants with the land. Martin Proctor challenged her strongly on this at a meeting and pointed out that it was the folks in Weston that contributed and added on to that hospital over many years and now they are losing that resource. What appears to have happened is that the Province has separated itself from hospitals by declaring them corporations run by an independent board who the Province then paid 2 billion dollars to build a new one on the understanding that the board would raise 200 million of its own by selling the land and other fundraising.

 

The province can correct its mistake by saying that the land which is worth about 20 million can be forgiven to the Hospital Board of Directors and the province take over the property but Ms. Albanese wasn’t going there.

 

They’ve got to build long term care facilities anyway – somebody has to. There’s a 1 year wait list for long-term care facilities and people will die on that list. Why are we ignoring a  great potential? I understand that the Province wants privately run long-term care facilities but surely if the land is available they can find a developer who is willing to do that.

 

I spoke to Rueben Devlin (HRRH CEO) about that possibility and he told me it could never be a long-term care facility because the rules are so strict it wouldn’t meet the current standards. But then how did they do it in Parry Sound and Ottawa? The province has grandparented other buildings why wouldn’t they do that in Weston rather than tearing it down and building a condo tower. SuOn College is very interested in the site. They’re bursting at the seams and are looking to expand.

There would be no rezoning needed as it is zoned institutional. The fly in the ointment is that the city owns part of the site and the hospital was very quick to go to court over that and are suing the city to try and keep title of the land with the Hospital. Frances had a plan for some kind of trade that would allow the city to keep some parkland somewhere in exchange for the land. Her wonderful deal with Cruickshank Section 37 money didn’t buy a community amenity – it bought drainage in Swanek park which the City was going to pay for anyway.

I contacted York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese and she confirmed that currently the site is zoned institutional. She also confirmed that hospitals are not fully funded by the province but communities are expected to have an investment in their hospital by raising 10% of the funding. The sale of the Church Street Site would go towards that community contribution. Under the current setup, long term care facilities are managed by not-for-profit corporations, indirectly connected with the Ontario Government. In order to use that as a solution, there has to be an expression of interest from such an entity and to date there has been none. She also mentioned that until the ownership of the deeded land on the HRRH site is settled, nothing is likely to proceed.

She did say that the Keele Street Hospital Campus has been sold to developer Daniels Corporation and the plan is to build some institutional facilities along with low-rise housing.

Having a similar outcome for Weston probably wouldn’t be too terrible, but who knows – with the way things are done in this city, the vision, accompanied by beautiful architectural drawings and the reality are often two entirely different things. Can you say Weston Cultural Hub?

Thanks to Mike Sullivan for agreeing to do this and to MPP Laura Albanese for her response.

Upcoming meetings. Big time: Correction

Three important meetings are happening this week. On Monday, October 5 at 7 pm, Frances Nunziata is hosting a meeting on the upcoming fight for the future of the Humber River Regional Hospital site. At issue is a lawsuit between the city and the hospital about what can be done with the land. The meeting will be at Weston CI.

That same night, Tuesday night, the federal candidates are expected to debate at the Weston Mount Dennis Community Place Hub at 1765 Weston Road. All candidates have been invited to participate, and it will be very interesting to see if they all attend. At the last two debates, neither Ahmed Hussen (Liberal) nor James Robinson (Conservative) attended.

The development at John Street will discussed on Wednesday, October 7, at Weston CI. Time: 7:00 pm.

City planning will be there, and feedback will be passed along to the Etobicoke York Community Council. The development includes 396 rental apartments in a 30-storey tower, 39,000 square feet of self-storage, 12,000 square feet of community outdoor space (including the Farmers’ Market), and a 8000 square foot cultural hub.

HRRH The City may own part of the land – a perspective

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The Church Street site of Humber River Regional Hospital is closing in October and as Adam has pointed out in several articles, the land will be up for grabs. Many residents of Weston breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that benefactors who donated land for a hospital in Weston had made a condition of their donation that the land must always be used as a hospital. The donation was made to the town of Weston, whose successor is the City of Toronto. It’s not the whole site as the hospital has grown since 1948 but 1.2 acres (out of 11.5) is enough of a chunk to make development more challenging.

The Humber River Regional Hospital Site. From Google.ca
The Humber River Regional Hospital site.
From Google.ca

Much speculation has occurred over what precisely should happen to the land. Recognizing that we live in a big city where real estate is expensive and development almost inevitable, what will happen to the site? Will there be open space? What kind of housing will be built? Will housing match that in the neighbourhood or will there be townhouse and high-rise development? Will the covenant be honoured and what form will that take?

The tired looking entrance to the Church Street site.
The entrance to the Church Street site.

Unfortunately, ownership of land by the City did not protect the Farmers Market site from being sold off to a developer. The same fate awaits this parcel of land unless an eagle eye is kept on the process. The public needs to be informed and have input into every step and decision made along the way. No doubt there will be talk of wonderful collaborations with a developer but these will come with a cost as we found out recently with the Farmers Market site.