The future of Stratford’s first public hospital is unclear.
Stratford City Council held a lengthy meeting Monday night where they heard from several residents who are critical of a plan by the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance to demolish the former Avon Crest site.
Just hours before Monday night’s meeting, the HPHA sent out a media release saying it intends to sign a long-term land-lease agreement with Revera that would allow for a new 128-bed long-term care home to be built at the site of the former hospital.
Concerns raised over the demolition, including from a group called Save Avon Crest, include that the building should be preserved for its heritage value and environmental risks associated with the demolition.
Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance President Andrew Williams counters that they have been clear all along that if somebody approached them with a timely, funded, responsible plan to preserve the building they would listen but he says that hasn’t happened.
He says the HPHA wants to see the building’s site developed so that it meets the health and wellness needs of the community.
Stratford City Councilor Cody Sebben introduced a motion at the meeting to revisit a past decision not to designate Avon Crest as a heritage property.
Fellow councilor Brad Beatty revised the motion to refer it to city staff to obtain legal advice on what designating the property would mean as far as Ontario’s new housing bill, passed last November, means.
Williams says they will look to finalize the agreement with Revera in the coming months, and says a heritage designation on the property wouldn’t prevent its demolition but it would change the process of obtaining the necessary approvals.
Williams adds they aren’t ready to demolish the building as it’s still in the tender phase.