Dave Johnson, The Tribune
Locating a new “south Niagara” hospital in Niagara Falls is “absolutely absurd,” says Mayor Vance Badawey.
Badawey was reacting to a report from Kevin Smith — the supervisor appointed the province to oversee Niagara Health System — released Friday that recommends a new hospital be built at the QEW and Lyons Creek Rd.
“Quite frankly, it’s absolutely absurd that a new hospital be built in the northern part of the region,” said Badawey.
Like Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs, he considers south Niagara to consist of Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Welland, Pelham and Wainfleet.
Port Colborne’s mayor said the city, along with local doctors and clinics, have been doing a lot of work to enhance primary health care in Niagara and align it with his city’s urgent care centre.
“We’ve been working with all of south Niagara … health care shouldn’t have boundaries.”
The mayor said it’s why the city created South Niagara Health Corp., which has seen Fort Erie, Wainfleet and Welland councils make recommendations to come on board. Badawey said Pelham has been invited to join as well, but has yet to make a decision.
Port Colborne will continue to work on enhancing primary care and will be able to put forth a solid, credible position, Badawey said, on where a new hospital should be built.
“I respect Dr. Smith, but he’s only been here a year … we’ve been working on this for four years,” he said.
A new south Niagara hospital located in Niagara Falls could “very well be the second mistake made in Niagara with respect to location” for a hospital, said Badawey referring to the West St. Catharines hospital and cancer centre site.
The mayor said even if Niagara Falls were part of south Niagara, locating a new hospital at Lyons Creek Rd. and the QEW still wouldn’t make sense.
“Forget all the municipal boundaries, look at the centre of south Niagara. The most appropriate place to build the hospital would be the most central location, Hwy. 140 and East Main St.,” said Badawey, adding he believes other south Niagara mayors would agree with him.
Jeffs said the location proposed by Smith is a losing one for Wainfleet residents.
“Residents have said to me all along, ‘How does a hospital in Niagara Falls make sense.’ It’s not fair to the rest of the municipalities … we’re all going to suffer, it’s frustrating. My residents are going to be mad.”
If the province moves forward with a new hospital in Niagara Falls, Jeffs said urgent care centres proposed by Smith in his report should include at least one located closer to Wainfleet.
“That still doesn’t do anything for us for critical care.”
Jeffs said she’d join forces with whoever wants to fight against the proposal to “right this wrong.”
Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn was still working his way through the lengthy report when contacted Friday afternoon.
The location chosen for the proposed hospital is one of two suggested sites that south Niagara mayors came up with, said Augustyn. The mayors, he added, worked with Niagara EMS and people at the region in the transportation and GIS departments.
“That site will be complemented by two urgent care sites in Niagara, as opposed to the one in Smith’s interim report,” he said, hoping at least one would be located close to Pelham.
Augustyn also said Pelham residents may gravitate toward the new St. Catharines hospital rather than the proposed one in Niagara Falls.
One thing the mayor was glad to see in Smith’s report is obstetric and pediatric departments being part of a new Niagara Falls hospital.