Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens discussed the mega-hospital with Doug Ford when the premier visited Essex County on July 23.
Courtesy of Drew Dilkens / Windsor Star
Mayor Drew Dilkens will meet with Premier Doug Ford in Toronto next month to discuss forging ahead with the new mega-hospital.It will be at least the second time in the span of a month the two will talk face-to-face about the hospital, after a brief meeting Tuesday when Ford made an unannounced visit to Essex County.“From my very first meeting with him the hospital was the very top of my agenda,” said Dilkens. “He was aware of the letter that I had sent on behalf of all the mayors in Essex County asking for a meeting. He understands the importance.”“Our goal is keep the project moving forward and get to the next phase, and see it unfold in a natural way as quickly as possible.”Dilkens said he spoke briefly in person this week with Ford, who was in Essex County to meet riding association members and knock on doors in Belle River.Ford and his team did not publicly announce he was making the trip, and he did not make himself available to the media.“I chatted with him for a short period of time, talked almost exclusively about the hospital and the need to move the project forward,” said Dilkens. “He had heard a desire when he was door knocking in the community, people were mentioning the hospital and the need to move it forward in Belle River, which was positive. They also were talking to him about Highway 3, which we would expect as well.”After that brief meeting, Ford invited Dilkens to a more formal sit down.“The discussion between Premier Ford and Mayor Dilkens was quite brief but they committed to sitting down to discuss a wide range of issues, including the new hospital plan, in the next few months,” Ivana Yelich, the premier’s press secretary, wrote in an email. “As we’ve always said, our government is committed to making capital investments based on sound fiscal planning guided by its priorities for the health care system. The Ministry of Health will continue to work with local health officials and the Windsor Regional Hospital to ensure that the planned hospital meets the service needs of the region.”Dilkens said other matters may be discussed at the next meeting, but the hospital will top the agenda.“The sense that I get is he understands how important it is to the people here,” said Dilkens. “So, his challenge, as he’s in the middle of taking austerity measures to try and get the province’s books back in order, is trying to figure out how to get the funding and time the funding to get the project done.“For every politician, that’s always the challenge. There are always more demands than supply of money.”Dilkens acknowledged there are “forces on the other side” opposed to the hospital’s proposed location, near the airport at County Road 42 and Concession 9, who have also reached out to the premier.“We know this was a process that was very fair and transparent,” he said. “It involved more than 70 public consultations, went on for quite a period of time and they’ve come to a proposed location, the zoning of which has come before city council and been approved. That proposed location, wherever it was, would never have satisfied 100 per cent of the people. But it’s one that we think is central for people who live in Windsor and Essex County.”Related
With the hospital potentially being built on the heels of the Gordie Howe International Bridge construction, Dilkens said the next 10 years could be critical for the economic future of Windsor and the health of its citizens.“All things being equal, the next decade in this community, on the horizon, the prospects look very bright,” he said. “I’m really excited about it and I’m trying to spread that passion to the premier and the minister of health and others who will ultimately make the decision on how to allocate funding to see it move forward.”email@example.com/WinStarWilhelm