The vision of a new Southlake Regional Health Centre hospital on Greenbelt lands on the border of Newmarket is simply not feasible in the view of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
King Township proposed the concept in 2022 after the province opened up Greenbelt lands for development. With the province now reversing that decision, the ministry confirmed this week the concept no longer falls in line with provincial plans.
“The government intends to proceed with strengthening and expanding the Greenbelt by enshrining its boundaries in legislation and returning all 15 properties back into the Greenbelt,” minister spokesperson Alexandru Cioban said. “As the proposed site would be returned to the Greenbelt upon legislative changes coming into effect and given the fact that the land remains outside of the settlement area, a development of a health-care facility on this property would not align with Greenbelt Plan policies.”
Southlake is searching for a second site to meet increased local demand and address overcrowding. Southlake met with King officials and a representative of Rice Group last year to discuss the idea a few days before the Greenbelt decision was made official. However, the hospital has made no public comments about the proposal specifically since the idea came forward.
In response to the province's decision on the King Geenbelt proposal, Southlake said its search for a new site remains ongoing, as it has since April 2022.
“While we have evaluated more than 25 properties against criteria such as size, proximity to the communities we serve, and transit accessibility,” Southlake said, “we have not yet secured a site and are continuing our efforts to find land to build a new Southlake to support the growing health-care needs of northern York Region and southern Simcoe County.”
The province reversed its decision on the Greenbelt after months of protest. Despite the province insisting that the land is needed to build homes, Ontario planners pushed back and said there is more than enough land for the province to meet its housing targets without those lands.
An auditor general’s report blasted the decision-making behind the Greenbelt and said it was being done at the behest of developers.
The King lands located just west of Newmarket were also been slated for residential development, whether or not a new hospital site came there. The province was estimating that 15,000 people could move into the area.
Southlake received $5 million in provincial funding last year toward planning for its new hospital site.