Battle To Save Historic Port Hope Hospital Going Strong

Port Hope Hospital at 65 Ward St.

Since posting a petition nine months ago and asking for your support, there have been several developments regarding the designation of the historic Port Hope Hospital at 65 Ward St.

By far one of the more significant developments in this campaign was the recent municipal election and a change of council members. While support for the historic hospital is still present within the current council, adversity continues to present itself with some council members remaining undecided and continued support for the developer of the 65 Ward St. site from local small interest groups.

For those of you who would like an update on the current status of our campaign, we have provided a brief timeline below. Following this update, and the release of the final Conservation Review Board report, concerned advocates can expect us to post new information that our advocacy team has put together. ACO Port Hope will also include details on how the historic hospital not only fits the criteria for adaptive reuse but also meets the needs of our community and its long-term care requirements.

April 11, 2018 – Special Meeting of Council to consider the designation of the Historic Hospital buildings at 65 Ward Street. Council voted unanimously to designate and protect the historic Port Hope Hospital buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act. Following this vote, there was an appeal period that ended on May 22nd, 2018. During this time, the council received letters of objection, support and petitions from both sides of the cause. All materials were forwarded to the Conservation Review Board as legislated.

Photo Courtesy Dominik Wisniewki ©Northumberland News 2019
Photo Courtesy Dominik Wisniewki ©Northumberland News 2019

June 19th, 2018 – Councillors Terry Hickey and Jeff Lees have wanted to put forward a motion for the Council to reconsider that intent. However, the Council received a legal opinion on June 18 that it could not reconsider such a designation once the Conservation Review Board (CRB) has begun its process. Councillors Hickey and Lees, therefore, did not put their motion forward and the Heritage Port Hope advisory committee also withdrew from making a presentation to Council.

August 20th, 2018 – Councillor Terry Hickey put forward a second motion for Port Hope council to reconsider their motion to designate 65 Ward St. as being of cultural heritage value or interest. Council scheduled the motion for debate at their September 4th meeting.

September 4th, 2018 – Port Hope Council debated a motion from Mr. Hickey and Mr. Lees to rescind its adopted motion to designate the historic 65 Ward St. In a 4-3 recorded vote, a majority of the council made the decision to remain firm on their original decision made back in April regarding designation of the old hospital property and await the CRB report.

Photo Courtesy Dominik Wisniewki ©Northumberland News 2019
Photo Courtesy Dominik Wisniewki ©Northumberland News 2019

October 3rd, 2018 – The Conservation Review Board held the first pre-hearing conference call.

November 20th, 2018 – The Conservation Review Board held a second pre-hearing conference call.

The pre-hearing conferences were to confirm the status of all parties, participants and observers for the hearing, and also to see whether there was any settlement insight regarding the matter.

With no settlement in sight, a hearing was scheduled for February 11th, 2019 and the CRB’s final recommendation will be ready mid-March. Once received, the report will be reviewed by municipal staff and then sent to the council for a final vote, which is expected sometime in early April.

CRB recommendations are rarely overturned but, Port Hope council does have that option. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to rally behind the mission of heritage advocates in our community and let our elected officials know just how vital these historic Port Hope hospital buildings are to preserving the history and heritage of our town.

ACO Port Hope would like to encourage continued communication. Talks between heritage advocates, Southbridge executives, Port Hope council and the community as a whole are essential to arrive at a decision that works for everyone.