The appearance of Windsor's proposed acute care hospital on a provincial list of future infrastructure projects is "positive news" to Windsor Regional Hospital's head honcho.

Infrastructure Ontario, the agency responsible for delivering capital projects across the province, on Tuesday released its "market update" for the fall of 2019. Windsor Regional hospital is one of 22 items listed in the pre-procurement phase.

"It reaffirms the Government of Ontario's commitment to our proposed new facility and we are excited to get moving on this vital and ambitious development for our region," said hospital CEO David Musyj in a news release Tuesday.

The list noted "greater than $1-billion" earmarked for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $2-billion. Dates for quotation and proposal requests, and for final closure of a future deal, are all listed as happening five or more years from now.

The hospital continues to work with the Ministry of Health to receive funding for the second stage of the five-stage process required "for all such projects of this size and scope," Musyj said. During the current the pre-procurement stage, he added, "it is vital that our community continues to strongly advocate for this project to receive the necessary funding required to move ahead."

Members of Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process (CAMPP) have been vocal in their opposition to soybean field location chosen for a new regional healthcare facility. The group has claimed that the chosen site will remove health care for the city centre, and make it difficult for vulnerable patients living in Windsor to access care, among other concerns.

CAMPP's formal appeal of the location will proceed to a full oral hearing before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) next month.

The acute care hospital will replace Windsor's existing aging, more centrally located hospitals. A satellite emergency department, outpatient mental health services, and a dialysis unit will remain in the city's core after operations move to the future mega-hospital.

On Monday, a grassroots group in favour of the hotly contested County Road 42 hospital location launched a postcard petition campaign to vocalize their support.

"We applaud the many advocates we have in our region at all political levels as well as the support we have received most recently from avid community supporters who are speaking out in favour of moving this project ahead at its proposed location," Musyj said.

"Together, we are confident that if we remain focused and speak as one strong voice for our region, we will bring this project to reality and replace our significantly aging hospital infrastructure we have today with state-of-the-art facilities we can be proud of for many years to come."

Related Windsor city council in August 2018 approved a zoning bylaw amendment to allow for the hospital's construction near the airport.

CAMPP's LPAT appeal hearing will begin on Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. in the council chambers at Windsor's city hall. Proceedings are scheduled to last for three days.

tcampbell@postmedia.com

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