Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital and Healthcare Centre Precinct
On September 18th, it was announced that the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital has reached substantial completion. In construction terms, that is great news and an amazing milestone. Living close to this hospital, I know it will be much-needed in Vaughan as the City continues to grow in the future.
As much as the hospital is worth celebrating, it still does not open until 2021, there is more at work around the hospital that is also worth exploring and celebrating…like the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct.
At the end of the press release the City of Vaughan issued, it states, “Hospitals are magnets for innovation, education, and investment that can lead to a community’s transformation. These opportunities must be seized to maximize positive outcomes. This is certainly true for the lands surrounding the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, called the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct, a first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada.” It goes on to say:
“In October 2019, [City of Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua] signed a memorandum of understanding with York University, Mackenzie Health and ventureLAB to identify transformational opportunities to maximize the best use of the lands surrounding the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital through a feasibility study. At its core, this partnership is about city-building, leveraging these partners and anchors to enable innovation, technology and economic opportunities from startups to multi-national enterprises in health-related sectors and creating a community healthcare experience.
- Research and development facilities.
- Facilities that construct or repair medical devices.
- Education, training, meeting or conference facilities related to healthcare.
- Limited pedestrian or cycling pathways and passive recreation.
- It will determine what kind of high-tech businesses come to Vaughan, and the kinds of jobs that will be available.
- It could mean Mackenzie Health can become a hospital that conducts research and commercializes innovative technologies.
- How the hospital connects with the neighbourhood needs to be a consideration, especially when you have a major highway to the west of the site.
- The City of Vaughan signed an agreement a few years ago with Niagara University to develop and build a campus in the City. As educational opportunities grow, it could entice other schools to set up campuses in Vaughan, and the spin-offs from that would be beneficial.
The viability and benefits of a renewable source district energy system will be considered for the Hospital Precinct Plan and within the wider Centre, as well as “‘green” means of ensuring sustained energy production to serve the hospital and wider area.
Creating a green site that is environmentally-friendly is important. For all we know, right now, this could mean putting up some solar panels, incineration, or some other form or power generation. An ambitious program could target something like Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). If the plan is to develop a renewable energy system, that is very interesting for two reasons: 1) partnering with the tech companies on the campus could lead to further technological developments that could bleed over into energy and other sectors and 2) it could mean the latest and greatest technology could power the local neighbourhood and City.
How to get to the hospital?
Conveniently, York Region has a Master Transportation Plan and the VIVAnext program that is building bus rapid transit as part of its Centres and Corridors strategy (item 3 – background). One of the corridors identified as part of the next phase of expansion is across 23 kilometres of Major Mackenzie Drive from Jane Street in Vaughan to Donald Cousens Parkway in Markham. The hospital is located right at Jane Street and Major Mackenzie Drive. That is very convenient! It also helps that Canada’s Wonderland is across the street and this will boost ridership in the summer months.
The importance of the bus rapid transit line cannot be understated. While the Transportation Master Plan envisions a complete network in 2041, and along with this the transition of bus rapid to light rail, this project is unfunded. Hopefully a hospital campus and high-tech hub will encourage the funding of a rapid transit line that will allow more people in Vaughan to work on site without driving, further connects the region by transit, and develops the site into another centre along a busy corridor.
There is a lot of pressure to get this right. The City of Vaughan has to get this right. The opportunity to transform this area and the City with an economic/employment anchor like high-tech is promising for the long-term viability of the City. There is a lot to like on the surface of this plan and the hospital this plan will surround; however, like with all things, it is all in the details and execution of the plan.
Featured image is courtesy of TorontoStar.com.