Today (27 March 2024) the new Chief Executive of Southlake, Dr Paul Woods, tells Newmarket Today the hospital is struggling to find a new site for its proposed new acute hospital. 

It is a tragedy it has come to this.

From the outset Southlake and King Township should have been transparent about Michael Rice's gift of land and the conditions attached to it.

Southlake should have worked closely with York Region and with the other lower tier municipalities such as Newmarket in their search for a suitable site for a new acute hospital instead of keeping them at arm's length.


The story of what happened under Dr Wood's predecessor, Arden Krystal, continues to unfold. Key information is still being withheld by Southlake. And, in the background, the RCMP’s investigation into the Greenbelt scandal grinds on.

To this day, the disgraced former Housing Minister Steve Clark has still not offered an apology to the Legislative Assembly for his role in the Greenbelt scandal. The recommendation by the Integrity Commissioner last August for the Legislature to reprimand Clark lies on the Order Paper as Premier Ford and House Leader, Paul Calandra, refuse to bring it forward for debate and a vote.


On Monday (25 March 2024) Southlake confirmed that it had been planning to include a Long-Term-Care facility within the new acute hospital complex in the protected Greenbelt at Bathurst in King Township.

The developer Michael Rice gifted land for a new hospital at a meeting at King Municipal Centre on 1 November 2022 with Southlake’s then Chief Executive, Arden Krystal, and its Vice President of Capital Facilities, John Marshman and King’s Mayor, Steve Pellegrini.

King and Southlake insist to this day they have no records of the meeting.

It defies belief there are no records of such a consequential meeting. Public bodies such as hospitals and municipalities have a duty in law to keep records.

Protected Greenbelt

Rice told the Integrity Commissioner, David Wake, that when he bought the 2.78 sq km tract of land he initially thought there would be no change in its protected Greenbelt designation – at least not in the short term. 

He nevertheless believed a hospital could be built in the protected Greenbelt with ancillary medical buildings and a Long-Term Care facility alongside. He did not say if he had taken professional planning advice before coming to this conclusion. King’s Planning Chief, Stephen Naylor, refused to give his view on whether a hospital could be built at Bathurst in the protected Greenbelt saying it was a matter for the Province.

Rice changes his view

Rice told Commissioner Wake that by September 2022 his view had changed. He said that while he always believed that parts of the Greenbelt would eventually be opened up for development, even by a Liberal Government, Ford was moving more quickly than he anticipated.

On 15 September 2022 Rice bought the Bathurst Greenbelt lands for $80M. With development approval the land would be worth many times this sum.

Bathurst lands would fit the bill

On the evening of 14 September 2022 at the BILD dinner, Rice met Steve Clark’s Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato, and quickly concluded the Government was moving to open-up parts of the Greenbelt for development. He told Amato he had land which would fit the bill and, two weeks later, gave Amato 

“a map outlining the area proposed to be removed from the Greenbelt, a rationale supporting the removal, a summary confirming consultants had been retained to do environmental and servicing assessments and an explanation of various servicing options for the site.”

There was no mention of an acute hospital on the Bathurst lands. 

Rice told the Integrity Commissioner that if he had known in the summer of 2022 that the Bathurst lands in King were to be removed from the Greenbelt 

“he would not have entered into discussions about using part of this particular site for a hospital”. 

"Sticking to it" 

But given his earlier discussions he was “committed” to the hospital and was “sticking to it”.

I am left wondering if Rice told the meeting on 1 November 2022 that he wanted to include ancillary medical buildings and a Long-Term-Care facility within the acute hospital complex. And if not, why not? 

Known Opportunities

Southlake’s Land Acquisition Sub Committee (LASC) held its first meeting on 5 December 2022.

The Chair, John Marshman, reported back from memory on the 1 November 2022 meeting and Rice's gift of land. There were no written reports. Sub Committee members were simply told the gift was a 

“known opportunity”.

It is unclear how Sub Committee members got to know about these "known opportunities".

Were there other “known opportunities”? What happened to John Dunlap’s offer of land for a new hospital?

Was that a known opportunity?

Sites for new Southlake "limited"

The Sub Committee decided to engage Colliers International to advise them on real estate matters. Colliers reported in May 2023 saying sites for a new hospital were very limited. 

In coming to this conclusion:

 “sites which fell under current conservation land statuses or within the Greenbelt or Oak Ridges Moraine areas were not considered as realistic opportunities based upon current development restrictions.”

This was three months before the Ford Government formally dropped its plans to allow development in the protected Greenbelt.

LTC fit

On 16 January 2023 Southlake held a meeting on the “Bathurst & Davis Drive Opportunity”. At the top of the agenda was an item on the “LTC fit” which we now know to mean long-term-care.

The meeting considered the location of the hospital and:

“requirements that may need to be built into an MZO (Minister’s Zoning Order)”.

Where did that come from - the MZO? Who brought that forward and why?

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Update on 4 April 2024 from the Newmarket ERA

See also: Timeline: Southlake and the sale of the Greenbelt lands in King









On 26 January 2023 Steve Clark asked the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator, Paula Gill, to:

"facilitate discussions and negotiations with landowners of fifteen parcels of land that were removed from the Greenbelt Plan Area in December 2022 to achieve development agreements and build a shared vision for concrete actions and timelines to achieve government objectives for development on these sites."

"The objective of this assignment is to develop clear agreements between landowners and the province to support downstream development and achieve shared goals such as enhanced community amenities, public services and greenspace. I am seeking your advice on the approach to prioritize and sequence this work."

The Provincial Land and Development Facilitator post has since been abolished by the Ford Government.

I filed a Freedom of Information request concerning the Bathurst lands. The Ministry found two responsive records but access was denied in part under these Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FIPPA or the Act) exemptions:

  • 17 – Third party information
  • 18 – Economic and other interests of Ontario
  • 19 - Solicitor-client privilege