Cleanup of new Ottawa Hospital site to cost $11M

Carling Building
The demolition of the Sir John Carling Building, seen above before its 2014 implosion, left behind a chemical residue that leaked into groundwater.

It will cost at least $11.1 million — and potentially more — to clean up contamination on the former Sir John Carling Building site before a new Ottawa Hospital can be built there.

Public Services and Procurement Canada released a map of the land they plan to transfer for the new hospital, along with early estimates for the cost of remediating the site.

The Sir John Carling Building sat on the land until it was imploded in 2014, but the demolition left behind a chemical residue that leaked into groundwater.

The government estimates it will cost between $8.3 and $8.6 million to remove the rubble of the building, which was pushed into basement levels and an additional $2.8 million to deal with the groundwater.

They don’t have an estimate on the cost of removing any contaminated soil around the building.

Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre, a cabinet minister in the Harper Conservative government, said that’s an absurd waste of money for a hospital that could have been built on a uncontaminated empty field.

“They wouldn’t have had to pay any of these costs if the hospital had been allowed to move to the location it had originally chosen,” he said. “These additional costs are unnecessary and $11 million is a lot of money and it may not be the final cost.”

The former Conservative government gave approval for the hospital to move to a site across from the existing hospital on Central Experimental Farm land.  

When the Liberals came to power they cancelled that approval and had the National Capital Commission study a host of other sites, before they selected Tunney’s Pasture.

The hospital rejected Tunney’s Pasture. The Sir John Carling site became a compromise position soon after.

Poilievre, who made an inquiry about the costs on the House of Commons Order Paper, said it’s clear the government had no idea about the additional costs when they picked the site.

“They didn’t do any of this costing or analysis before making this decision,” he said. “They were determined to try and make the former federal government look bad.”

Former city Coun. Clive Doucet agrees with Poilievre that the government made this decision without all the facts. But he said the hospital should go to Tunney’s Pasture, a site that was heavily studied by the NCC.

“They should never have left it. The NCC put a 1,000-page report out indicating it was the first choice.”

Doucet said he believes the land would be easily convertible.

“It has supported intense office life for 50 years. It makes perfect sense that it would be easily convertible.”

This article originally appeared in Metro News.