Saunderson’s Role in Blocking the Hospital Redevelopment


DilbertDuring the previous council’s four years (2014-18), I documented the aggressive efforts to stall the local hospital’s desperately-needed redevelopment by a group of those on council (aka The Block*). Every other municipality in the region enthusiastically supported the hospital’s plan; only this group on Collingwood council put up roadblocks. And they were significant roadblocks raised at great expense to the taxpayer.

Collingwood council SHOULD have taken the lead to promote their own hospital, but couldn’t get past their self-importance. As a result of the former council’s pettiness and negative interference, the hospital’s plans were set back as much as a decade, perhaps even more. Voters here should not forget that. **

Brian Saunderson, one of those who erected the roadblocks, is now running for the nomination for the local Progressive Conservative party to be our next MPP while stubbornly remaining as mayor; a situation rife with potential for conflicts of interest and accusations of influence-peddling. Yet he refuses to do the honorable, ethical thing and resign from office while he campaigns. That speaks volumes to his character. (in 2011, Mississauga council passed a motion asking both provincial and federal governments to require municipal councillors to resign their seat before running for higher office.)

I thought it might be a good time to remind readers about that earlier story and his part in it. On the next page is a list of all the stories I published here about the hospital issue, The Block’s objections and stalling tactics, their fight against the hospital’s plans, their closed-door meetings, and the final vote-grabbing turnaround they made as the next municipal election approached.

  1. The Wasaga Beach G&M Hospital, Sept. 3, 2016
  2. Blockheads severely chastised over CG&MH motion, Sept. 9, 2016
  3. Hospital destruction avoided… for now, Sept. 12, 2016
  4. Sabotaging the hospital (again), Sept. 26, 2017
  5. Another scathing email to council, Sept. 27, 2016
  6. Fulfilling a role? Who are you kidding? Oct. 26, 2016
  7. I used to like him; not so much now… Nov. 27, 2016
  8. The Block torpedoes the hospital, again, Jan. 28, 2017
  9. Saunderson’s disrespectful performance, March 2, 2017
  10. Council in panic mode, March 3, 2017
  11. GIS for CGMH, March 5, 2017
  12. Which do we need more?, March 9, 2017
  13. Council continues to attack the hospital, March 29, 2017
  14. The hospital, the trolley and political ethics, April 3, 2017
  15. Another imaginary roadblock for the hospital, April 22, 2017
  16. The DM’s height of hypocrisy, May 4, 2017
  17. Sadly, it’s business as usual, May 15, 2017
  18. The Block killed the hospital. They MUST all resign. Now., May 28, 2017
  19. How to piss off The Block, June 4, 2017
  20. Bullying the hospital again, July 22, 2017
  21. Brian just keeps bashing our hospital, Sept. 11, 2017
  22. Update: closed-door meetings in Collingwood, Jul. 18, 2018
  23. Saunderson’s Abject Desperation, Jul. 24, 2018

After reading these, ask yourself: is this the sort of man you want to represent you and the district in the provincial legislature?  Is this the sort of behaviour you want from an MPP?

* So-called for them voting en masse according to what their leader did or said, rather than what was best for the community. More properly they should have been nicknamed “The Politburo” — it better exemplifies their unrelenting, ideological loyalty to their local vozhd rather than to the community that elected them, but perhaps that term might have been misconstrued or misunderstood. This group includes councillors Jeffrey, Madigan, and Doherty, all of whom were returned to the table in the 2018 election, along with our current mayor (then deputy-mayor), Brian Saunderson.

** The Collingwood General & Marine Hospital finally received tentative approval from the provincial government to move ahead with its redevelopment in April 2019, more than three years after it first made public its redevelopment plans. But that did not include the province approving the Stage 1 plans. Only when the province officially approves those Stage 1 plans — still unapproved as of January 2021 — can the CG&MH begin its preparations for a capital redevelopment campaign to raise $80 million locally.

The redevelopment appears to have been stalled, like so many other projects, by the pandemic: the last item of news on the hospital’s website is dated Feb. 4, 2020, almost a year ago. In that new release, it notes, “The hospital is currently waiting for approval of our Stage 1 submission to proceed to Stage 2. We remain optimistic and are appreciative of the process to date.”

Stage 2 requires the hospital to further expand on the Stage 1 master plan, adding more details about the new building and all the services to be delivered there. After that approval, there are still three more stages to pass through before construction can begin. Each stage must receive provincial approval; a lengthy and exhausting bureaucratic process

A story in Collingwood Today from Dec. 29, 2020, is titled, “2020 in review: new Collingwood hospital application still stuck in first phase.” I suggest that the hospital would have had several years to develop and implement their fundraising campaign and get provincial approval had not Saunderson and The Block objected so much and so often to the hospital’s plans.

It is now five years since those plans were first presented and they are still not approved. Even if approved this spring, it will take at least five, and likely eight or more, years to get the money raised and the proposed new hospital built.  That means a decade or more will have passed since the first proposal. In Jan. 2020, it was also noted the new hospital was at least eight years away. I lay the blame for the delay on the shoulders of those on Collingwood council who opposed it and put up so many roadblocks. Our community’s health and wellbeing have been put at risk by the selfish, petty efforts of a small group.

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