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King urges province to fast track Southlake site on Greenbelt

Township mayor says location just west of Newmarket 'very likely' to be landing spot for new hospital

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the potential new Southlake site would be in the Oak Ridges Moraine land. It would, in fact, be located in the Greenbelt lands. The story below has been edited to correct the error. 

The Township of King is urging the province to fast track a potential landing site for a new Southlake hospital.

The land in question is just west of Newmarket, north of Davis Drive West in the Greenbelt area. The province announced Nov. 4 that it wants to designate a chunk of that land for a settlement area. King council unanimously passed a resolution this week, asking the province to fast track the site but to leave the part of the parcel in the Oak Ridges Moraine alone. 

King Mayor Steve Pellegrini said the area is “extremely likely” to be the site for a new Southlake Regional Health Centre hospital building, as long as funding is available. But King feels the portion of the Oak Ridges Moraine is not necessary for a settlement designation.

“We don’t support redesignation of any part of the Oak Ridges Moraine," Pellegrini said, adding there is plenty of acreage beyond it that the province could use for housing. “There’s quite a lot of land there. You just don’t need to touch the Oak Ridges Moraine.” 

Southlake is planning a new, second hospital site to address overcrowding and the growth in the northern York Region and received a $5-million grant from the government in April toward that. Although there has been mention of the new site falling outside Newmarket’s borders, an exact potential location has not been widely publicized. 

Communications strategist Danae Theakston said they are still in a site selection process.

“Southlake is grateful to have the support of the communities we serve. We sincerely appreciate the support of the council of King Township and the opportunities this brings," she said. "We are currently embarking on our site selection process to identify the preferred site and should be in a position to announce it as soon as possible.”

Pellegrini said the King location has been in the works for a couple of years, and the landowner is willing to donate it for a nominal fee of about $5. He further said that the location works given its relative proximity to Southlake on Newmarket's Davis Drive and capability for services and transit to be extended there from the western edge of Newmarket.

The province has announced a series of proposed changes to the Greenbelt and surrounding areas to open up lands up housing development. That included lands directly west of Newmarket in King, both in the Oak Ridges Moraine where the hospital might be built and in the Greenbelt areas directly north of it.

The King resolution asks the province not to redesignate the Oak Ridges Moraine lands and says they are not required as settlement. 

As far as the Greenbelt areas, Pellegrini said King was not at consulted about them. But there is a focus on ensuring that the hospital project can go ahead.

“We’re jumping to get the best we can for King,” he said. 

The public commenting period for the province’s proposal is open until Dec. 4.

There was another parcel of land up for consideration closer to Highway 404, Pellegrini said. But he added that was bought and is no longer available.

With the hospital having to look elsewhere, Pellegrini said he hopes for some provincial urgency to confirm King as the future location of the next Southlake hospital.

“We’re ecstatic at the opportunity that this provides,” Pellegrini said. “We hope they fast track this.”