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Niagara Falls
Friday, March 31, 2023
Editorial: The future of old NOTL hospital
The Lake Report's weekly editorial. File

‘We don’t want to see the old hospital’s future use become mired in studies and reports and indecision’


There are a lot of important issues facing the new Niagara-on-the-Lake town council.

Councillors are wrestling now with the annual budget, so we will soon know how this council’s 2023-24 vision will translate into the dollars and cents of an annual tax increase – and what its many priorities will be for the coming year. And beyond.

But that is just one of the big issues and tough decisions council has to deal with. Development- and growth-related files also await them, among many others.

Perhaps the file requiring the most vision is what to do about one of the most prestigious and important properties in town – the site of the former Niagara-on-the-Lake Hospital.

The previous council under then-Lord Mayor Betty Disero went through an extensive process of seeking proposals for the site and then decided not to accept any of them.

Given the unveiling of the Niagara Creative Cultural Community Hub’s idea, as outlined in detail in The Lake Report last week, perhaps that non-decision by council in 2022 was prescient and fortuitous.

This collaborative group of non-profit organizations, with a veritable who’s who of movers and shakers from various sectors of the arts and cultural communities, says it has already secured a $2-million donation to help get rolling with its interesting and innovative concept.

In short, the people behind this group have offered to assume the operating costs of the old hospital building so various community groups can continue using it as a communal space.

Plans also include a multi-million dollar renovation of the old building – something it sorely needs.

As one of the hub’s proponents, Robin Ridesic, noted in outlining for council the usefulness of the hospital as a community space, it is an important site.

“It is the last zoned community facility property that could be renovated to meet the needs of current small to midsize community non-profits,” said Ridesic, who owns the Exchange Brewery.

She and her group have hit on a grand and forward-thinking idea and it is one about which we will have more to say in the near future.

As some in the community have already commented – and letter writers have suggested to The Lake Report – a cultural hub, in that location makes a lot of sense. But so might a medical facility and/or residential community for aging seniors. Or all of them, together.

We don’t anticipate that however the property is changed – or redeveloped – will satisfy everyone or all of NOTL’s needs. But all of these possibilities are worth considering. None of them will be wrong.

What we don’t want to see happen is for the old hospital’s future use to become mired in studies and reports and indecision. Let’s act promptly – after due diligence, of course – and without delay.

So, for now, we simply ask that council give the Niagara Creative Cultural Community Hub concept serious thought and take action quickly, one way or the other.

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