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LETTER: How quickly can Doug Ford make a deal with Thunder Bay to turn over the LPH property?

To quote the Premier’s own legislation, it’s time to “Get It Done”.

To the editor, 

Here’s a test for Premier Doug Ford to see if he’s willing to walk the walk when it comes to housing: how quickly he can push his bureaucrats to make a deal with the City of Thunder Bay to turn over the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital property.

The LPH lands have sat vacant for five years now. We don’t know why Ontario’s bureaucrats have dithered about what to do with this valuable piece of land.

Premier Ford has proudly announced his Housing Supply Action Plan and Bill 162, the Get It Done Act as the framework for addressing the housing shortage in Ontario.

Both are all about cutting red tape to advance housing projects in communities.

Thunder Bay is putting together a Mayor’s Task Force while city hall staff have developed an eight-part plan to accelerate housing development.

According to the plan by city hall staff, one of the big impediments to create new infill housing is the fragmented ownership of lands and the lack of specific development plan for lands near the downtown cores and the university.

Fixing all that, one can infer, will take considerable time.

Meanwhile, the LPH property provides a unique opportunity for the city to develop high-rise housing within a single, 58-hectare (144 acres) parcel in one fell swoop. If Doug Ford will make it happen.

The city could subdivide the property and sell it to the private sector conditional on the provision of specific types of housing.

Thunder Bay’s biggest need is rental housing, especially rent-geared-to-income. The District Social Services Administration Board could be invited to develop a project with help from the federal government’s $20.7 million from the federal Housing Accelerator Fund. Co-operatives could also be encouraged to apply.

The old hospital building itself will have to be torn down. That is unless the Fort Government gets rid of the red tape that requires refurbishing buildings to current standards. If we don’t keep the building, Doug Ford should put up some funds to remove the asbestos and take the building down.

Once demolished, private developers could use the property to build high-end condos with great views of Boulevard Lake and Superior.

The best thing about the sale is that the city could control the entirety of the site, making sure space was set aside for a grocery store and other retail and commercial elements as well as a master servicing plan.

To quote the Premier’s own legislation, it’s time to “Get It Done”.


Shane Judge


Editor's note: The headline on this story was revised mid-day to reflect the letter writer's intent. 

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