Provincial Update: They paved paradise, and put up a parking garage?

Submitted by Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre

Our city is buzzing with debate over the site of the new Civic Hospital.  

Sadly, it’s not about the quality of facility, or the way in which the hospital will position Ottawa as a leader in health care. It’s about cars, and parking — tons of parking. 

It’s about a proposal to locate a massive, above-ground parking garage across the street from the hospital in what is now Queen Juliana Park, and the city parking lot adjacent to the park, comparable in size to the parking lot at the Ottawa Airport. 

The original plan was to put this parking lot underground, for good reason. This is next to a UNESCO World Heritage Site — Dow’s Lake and the Rideau Canal — and an important part of Ottawa’s urban tree canopy. 

Instead, we now learn that over 600 trees will be uprooted for a sprawling above-ground parking facility. And developers are promising a green space will be plopped on the roof of the parking garage to compensate. People are not amused. 

This is another case of arbitrary planning. The decision to put the new Civic Hospital in Dow’s Lake went against the wishes of a 200-page report prepared by the National Capital Commission, and over 7,000 community members who contributed to that process. The consensus was to locate the hospital at Tunney’s Pasture, but that didn’t sit well with local developers who wanted to build high-priced condos.

So after that botched process, we are now being told to accept a massive parking garage in the middle of urban greenspace. Reflecting on that, I thought immediately of the great Joni Mitchell, and her timeless song Big Yellow Taxi:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone

They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. 

I’ve met with leadership from the Ottawa Hospital, and insisted that plans to build this above-ground parking garage should be changed. I fully support our friends at city council who are calling for the same thing. 

If you’d like to share your thoughts on this project, please send us an email at We must work together to preserve urban greenspace.

Leave a comment