BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN
The Sisters of St. Joseph are planning for the future of the hospital building they paid for piece by piece more than 50 years ago.
Once Sudbury?s one-site hospital is completed, St. Joseph?s Health Centre, formerly Sudbury General, on Paris St., will no longer be needed for acute hospital care.
The Sisters are asking community members to submit proposals for the site no later than Oct. 28 at 1 pm.
?We?re looking for someone to...make recommendations for how the site could be used, and also how to get funding so that they could proceed with that project,? says Sister Bonnie MacLellan, General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
?Once we?ve had an opportunity to look at all of the recommendations, we?ll choose those that would be the most viable. We?ll ask those individuals
to come forward with a more detailed proposal about how they feel the site should be used.?
Proposals should meet the unmet needs of the people of Sudbury, fit in with city planning, support the mission and values of the Sisters and be mindful of the environment.
Developers may want to demolish the current building and re-build on the four-and-a-half acre property, which overlooks Bell Park, says the nun.
Mayor David Courtemanche is expected to submit a proposal to build a convention centre on the property, says his principal advisor, Paul Demers.
Courtemanche been pushing for the convention centre to be built on Ramsey Lake since 1997, he says.
The mayor recently met with designer and Sudbury native Bruce Mau to discuss the idea.
Back in the 1990s, the Sisters considered converting the building into a long-term care facility after the one-site hospital was built.
When hospital construction stalled and the St. Joseph?s Health Centre was still needed for acute care, the Sisters built St. Joseph?s Villa on Laurentian University?s campus.
Long-term care facilities may be among the proposals, says MacLellan. But there are drawbacks to the idea. The government has to agree to fund more beds first, and the building would be expensive to renovate.
The Sisters haven?t decided whether they will be renting or selling the property. It all depends upon the ideas people come up with, says MacLellan.
?It?s certainly a beautiful site. However, we would want to ensure that the mission and values of the Sisters of St. Joseph are maintained,? she says.
?Some people have asked me ?Would the Sisters ever consider building something like a casino?? That?s certainly not one of our missions or values. So no, it wouldn?t be on the list.?
The hospital has a long and proud history. It was built in 1950 as a replacement for the old St. Joseph?s Hospital in downtown Sudbury.
The Sisters of St. Joseph took on the mortgage themselves, and paid for various additions over the next 20 years.
MacLellan will be sad to see the hospital demolished or converted to another use, although she know it?s necessary. She trained as a nurse at the facility in the early 1970s, and was its CEO between 1999 and 2003.
?Of course, I would (be sad to see it go) because I know that many of the Sisters worked tirelessly to ensure that the mortgage could be paid,? she says.
?There?s a part of me that?s nostalgic and remembers many events in that hospital that were key to the development of the community of Sudbury.
Having said that, times change, and the needs in the community change...Bricks and mortar don?t matter.?