The Town of Innisfil council has unanimously endorsed Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s (RVH) request for a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZ) to accelerate development of RVH’s future South Campus in Innisfil.
“Council unanimously supports the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s proposal to expand healthcare in our community as soon as possible,” says Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin. “We understand that quality healthcare is important to ensure that we have high quality of life and economic opportunities. We’re thrilled that Innisfil has been selected as the future home of RVH’s South Campus.”
RVH presented its integrated, ‘one system; two site’ capital plan to Innisfil council Wednesday night, outlining how it will expand the current North Campus, while developing a South Campus at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Innisfil Beach Road. RVH also asked council to formally ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to grant an MZO.
“An MZO, if granted by the province, would provide certainty that a hospital can be built on this property, well-positioning RVH to secure government approvals for our plan and continue detailed site planning for the South Campus,” says Janice Skot, RVH president and CEO. “The population of south Simcoe County is going to double over the next 20 years, increasing the area’s healthcare needs significantly. Yet RVH is already bursting at the seams with occupancy rates exceeding 115 per cent. We need to get shovels in the ground as soon as possible. An MZO will help us do that.”
An MZO is an important planning tool that gives the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing authority to re-zone a site, while establishing land use permissions and requirements, such as maximum building heights, parking, access and servicing. RVH must continue to adhere to all strict planning criteria, including environmental approvals, as well as continue its broad community consultation.
Stakeholder engagement has been foundational to RVH’s planning and, over the past three years, the health centre has logged an unprecedented 57,000 consultation interactions. After announcing the South Campus location in mid-October, RVH launched Phase 2 of its consultation strategy and through focus groups with Indigenous partners and environmental groups, a Community Listening Session and online survey, saw 27,000 interactions in just two weeks.
“If ever an MZO was warranted, this is it. These zoning orders were made for a project like this,” says Innisfil Ward 2 Councillor Bill Van Berkel. “This is so exciting for me, my children, my grandchildren and every person who lives in Innisfil and area. Let’s get the bulldozers out there!”
The timelines for developing a hospital are long and complex with a five-stage provincial planning process. RVH’s South Campus will evolve over the next two decades. The first phase will be a Health Hub built in ten years, focusing on outpatient care, including an Urgent Care Centre. It will expand over time, becoming a full-service hospital, with an Emergency Department, inpatient beds and operating rooms within 20 years. At maturity, the South Campus will be approximately the size of the current North Campus on Georgian Drive, seeing 350,000 patient visits each year.
At the same time RVH will double the size of the North Campus, including a new nine-storey inpatient tower. The North and South Campus are completely interdependent; one can’t proceed without the other. Services within the two-campus plan are integrated, not duplicated.
“The Town of Innisfil has been involved in RVH’s planning exercise, since the very beginning and we greatly appreciate its support, perspective and guidance,” says RVH Board of Directors Chair Charlotte Wallis. “As partners, we will continue to work toward a shared vision of healthcare in south Simcoe County that improves healthcare for area residents for generations to come, while acting as a vital economic catalyst for the entire region.”